TV Veterans Produce Web-Only Show
LOS ANGELES – The creative minds behind such TV shows as "Thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life" are launching a Web-based show, hoping to find the artistic freedom online that they say is lacking on broadcast networks.
The show, called "Quarterlife," will debut Nov. 11 on MySpace.com and will also be paired with its own social networking site that will include story extras as well as career, romance and other information for the show's young audience.
Centered on a group of recent college graduates, the show started as a pilot for an ABC series called " 1/4 Life." It aired once in 2005 and was pulled because of creative differences between the network and creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick.
With the explosion of online video and the migration to the Web of such well-known artists as Will Ferrell, Harry Shearer and Bill Murray, Herskovitz and Zwick decided to resurrect the show and give it a cyber twist.
The TV veterans were also attracted by the chance to have full creative control of the project and retain ownership, which could produce greater profit for them if the show becomes popular.
"It's a gamble," Herskovitz said. "We want to prove there is another way to independently create and distribute content."
The show's 36 episodes will air exclusively on MySpace, which has more than 110 million users worldwide. Additional content, including character profiles, will also appear on MySpace, which is owned by News Corp.
Each episode will be about 8 minutes long with two episodes debuting each week. The producers and MySpace will share revenue from ads that will run in the video. Additional revenue will come from product placement deals, Herskovitz said.
In a new wrinkle, the show also will have its own social networking site called quarterlife.com.
Sending viewers in a loop back and forth from episode to the site could help build an audience, Forrester Research analyst Josh Bernoff said.
"If you create a place where your fans can gather and talk, then you reinforce their coming back and make it possible for them to recruit other people," Bernoff said.
Bernoff said there is room for professionally-created content online. But the Internet is still decades away from commanding the audiences, and thus the profits that TV can.
"Making the big time still means being on television," Bernoff said.