Online video is the Wild West. To ride with the hackneyed, clichéd, but accurate metaphor, there are independent trailblazers like Rocketboom, Ask a Ninja, and ZeFrank that found and worked their own plot of land to prosperous gain, there are old conglomerates with new names like Hulu and Crackle that are trying to move into the newly established space with a sense of manifest destiny and, of course, there are those pioneers who made an early trek across new media’s Gold Rush Trail only to succumb to exhaustion along the way.
Cory Tyler, Ski-ter, and Charles Carpenter represent the latter. The good-looking, charmingly creative threesome behind the bi-weekly, ad-agency spoofing comedy series Can We Do That? (Tilzy.TV page) told Sunny Gault of Veoh’s Viral (Tilzy.TV page) that they’d be taking a production break. The show is meticulously based around wrangling a sponsor, and they just weren’t able to rope one into the corral. ###
The principals all have relatively successful acting careers in Hollywood, but they didn’t come to the internet with the rigidity you’d expect from old media vets. Instead, the three men used their experience to create a show with a formula that seemed ripe for Internet success.
Amusingly risqué scripts with precarious situations are packed into well-acted, fast-moving, bite-sized episodes. Curvaceous dancing models act as hooks to draw viewers’ intrigue. Faux product placements and “Sponsored by….” spots imitate the real thing, giving potential advertisers an idea of what they could get for their buck. And a frequent, earnest outreach to fans to participate in the show displayed a sense of community and support for its viewers.
So what went wrong? Timing.
There’s a significant amount of investment currently going on in the online video space, and new media production companies like Vuguru, 60Frames, and Next New Networks are betting relatively big dollars on content creation for the web. But having started production of this seemingly successful web series in April 2006, I think the guys just hit their stride too soon. Pioneers in an open space that were a little too early for their own good. Hopefully, they’ll be back.