The lines of what it and what isn’t traditional television get increasingly blurry. Many shows left network television years ago but are now experiencing revivals online. Other shows supplement their network programming with popular webisodes. And then there is the plethora of made-for-the-web “TV” that has experienced a new life when repackaged as network shows. Further still, viral video marketing has fueled our obsession for fresh online content while traditional television tries to get caught up. For an example of this blurriness in action, take a look at Web Therapy.
Web Therapy is a comedy starring Lisa Kudrow which recently jumped off the Internet and became a legitimate cable sitcom on Showtime. The show has been an online hit for three years with a roster of guest stars which includes Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin and Selma Blair. Kudrow and director Don Roos created the comedy, which revolves around the life of self-centered therapist Fiona Wallice. Fiona believes no problem can’t be solved in under three minutes, so she conducts humorous therapy sessions from her desk via Skype-like sessions. Funny stuff, so no wonder Showtime jumped at the chance for a show so easy to adapt for television.
The new series keeps the web format with one big difference: When it airs on Showtime, a big time car company isn’t raking in ad dollars. Web Therapy was produced online by L Studio, the Lexus-owned Internet television network. But L Studio wins in this situation, too, by proving that branded online programming has the stuff to cross over to traditional TV. Sure, Lexus won’t be blazoned across the TV screens of viewers — but the company was undoubtedly compensated for selling the rights to Showtime.
So the moral of this confusing little tale that jumps from ‘net to set is simple: Great video content, regardless of where it ends up, gets noticed. Readers, what say you? Do you love any web-only series? Is TV as we know it dead? Sound off below!