America loves it some clips shows, at least when those clips shows air on TV. ABC recently renewed America’s Funniest Home Videos for the series’ 21 season, Comedy Central signed Tosh.0 up for its third year, and G4 extended Web Soup‘s sophomore run.
Clip shows on the internet, however, are prone to fail. From NBC’s Dot Comedy or Jim Kirk’s The Clip Show, to The Daily Reel’s The Daily Reel or Yahoo’s The 9, piecing together online programming with pieces of other online programs simply hasn’t been successful. Clip shows operate effectively only when they are A) showing the viewer a piece of content the viewer hasn’t seen before, B) showing the viewer a piece of content the viewer has seen before in a manner that’s more entertaining than the piece of content itself, or C) a combination of both A and B. Simple concepts, for sure, but concepts no one on the web has fully realized.
America’s Funniest Home Videos operated for the better part of its 21 years in an economy where funny homemade movies were a scarce commodity. It survives today because it works off a brand name that successfully supplied that scarce commodity to the marketplace. YouTube, your Twitter stream, and Urlesque are now the suppliers, effectively eliminating funny homemade movie scarcity. Tosh.0 and Web Soup realize this. These programs aren’t successful because they bring unwatched online video awesomeness to the masses, they’re successful because they’re awesome shows in and of themselves. Their added context and clever commentary makes the clips more entertaining to watch. When viral videos are just a click away, you must give your clip show a Daniel Tosh or Chris Hardwick-like treatment to make it more watchable than the viral videos themselves.
All this brings me to MSN’s latest site launch, The Bubble, and its accompanying web series, Daily Bubble. MSN partnered with Grind Networks to make the online video comedy destination. The site showcases interactive visualizations (which look like they were resurrected from a different, more notorious bubble) and a daily web show hosted by Will Greenberg. Both the site and the show suffer from the same problem. Neither one is more usable than my online social network as a discovery mechanism, nor more entertaining than the clips they’re attempting to highlight. The site left me craving a more efficient, easily digestible mode of consumption and the show made me want to watch the viral videos without Greenberg’s interruptions.
MSN and other production companies looking to make the online video clip show work need to amp up production values and host appeal if they want to compete with my go-to sources for finding what’s funny. Until that happens, I’ll stick to the internet’s tried and tested method of clicking on links.