Short answer: Yes. Longerish answer: This post.
Special Delivery is what happens when you take the tired concept of Candid Camera comedy to the web, where the reins of production are handed to savvy young creatives with room to wax risqué, unhindered by stodgy networks and unbridled by 30-minute timeslots.
Launched in early march, the Frito-Lay/Cheetos-sponsored 18-episode MySpace series gets straight to the gotcha! punchline in 4 minutes or less. Handymen and delivery guys walk into squirmingly uncomfortable situations (an out-of-closet proposal gone wrong, pizza oriented obstacle courses, alien probes) to the delight of hundreds of thousands of viewers:
Errr…hundreds of thousands of viewers on MySpace. The same videos are up on YouTube, but nobody’s watching. As Silicon Alley Insider points out, “of the 12 episodes of Special Delivery added within the last month on YouTube, only one has more than 1,000 views. Meanwhile, episodes of Special Delivery found 254,778 viewers on last week and 155,011 the week before.”
Tubemogul says the discrepancy is due to differing demos. I disagree. This one’s all about being featured.
Yes, different sites have different communities. Facebook users are more socioeconomically advantaged and academically oriented than those on MySpace. Metafilter users leave grossly more valuable commentary than any annotation you’ll find on YouTube. But can MySpace users and YouTube users really be hundreds of thousands of views apart? Especially when watching a series that ostensibly looks palatable to both parties?
Special Delivery is a MySpace original, so the social network has been pimping the hell out of the show and featuring it in prominent locations on multiple occasions. YouTube hasn’t featured the series once. The difference in views is a strong indicator of how much promotional power these sites have.
There’s a commonly held conception that the internet is a meritocracy, that the cream will rise to the top. Let’s say Special Delivery is a fantastic show. Why isn’t it doing well on YouTube? Let’s say it’s terrible. Then why is it doing so well on MySpace?
Good or bad, MySpace’s muscle is making the series a relative hit, and it’s evidence of the increasing importance of being featured on the homepage of a major video-sharing site. Sure, everything on the web is easily accessible, only a click away, but prime real estate is the new primetime and integral to a show’s success in the new medium.
The only thing that hasn’t been democratized is marketing.