Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Where the People Are

Battlestar Galactica tried something new leading up to its new season: Webisodes. You can argue whether these were just television on the Web or something more, but they added a little more excitement to the whole premier.

But it appears that the Webisodes will be no more, at least according to TV Squad (also seen in Newsweek).

The main reason the Webisodes are done has to do with contracts and how they're written. NBC calls the Webisodes "promotional material" and therefore won't give the writers true credit. But anyone watching them knows they were much more, as they helped advance the plot.

Why am I reporting this? Because in that same piece, TV Squad points out that the Webisodes attracted much more interest than the broadcast version of the show itself.

"Last month, nearly six million people streamed BSG episodes within two days of the premiere. Compare that to the 2.2 million people who watched the third-season premiere of the show."

These aren't NBC's only problems, as the broadcast giant is laying off workers and rethinking "prime time."

Also this week, The Financial Times reported that BusinessWeek reporters are being asked to do more reporting straight to the Web. According to the piece, online advertising grew 61 percent last year while the print side hardly moved. The online side now represents 13 percent of all ad revenues, so it's obviously more attractive.

People are moving to the Web, not in small numbers, but in droves. Those industries that adjust have a chance to survive, those that don't will perish.

A few years ago freelance writers fought a similar battle. If you sell an article to the New York Times to run in the print publication, then the Times earns money on that content by selling it online, should you get part of that revenue?

Eventually that argument was settled and now freelancers find a clause in their contract expanding the use of their material.

TV and the Writers Guild of American need to get out of their own way. They tie writing and credit to TV and broadcast, they need to redefine their product.

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