MTV, a veteran at changing how a complete entertainment genre actually works, is launching its first Web-only TV drama show. Thing is, is MTV shining a light on the way ahead for TV's future in our Web-connected age, or just late to the party?
The new show, dubbed Being Victor, debuts on September 7th, and consists of a series of 20 5- to 8-minute shorts. It's a teen drama set in Scotland, it's being compared to the hugely successful MTV show Skins, and it'll run exclusively on MTV UK's website—it's MTV's first foray into online video. To back up the experiment, there's a large social media component, including Twitter accounts in the name of the show's characters (one of which, from the eponymous Victor himself, has already been in action as a promo vehicle since July), and links to the MySpace pages of bands who appear on the show.
This shows MTV is really grabbing the tiger's tail on this experiment—as well as commissioning around two hours of specialist drama, it's put a lot of effort into promoting it on the very medium it'll be broadcast on—just as it does for its TV shows.
But is this really ground-breaking? The use of social media as a pseudo-interactive way to attract an audience (presumably in the younger age bracket the show seems targeted at, who also use social media more than other age groups) is certainly novel—though Fox has tried it with live Twitter feeds before. And the notion of Web-only dramas is absolutely nothing new: Some of you will remember the exploits of Lonelygirl15, from way back when. And perhaps MTV should peruse our feature on Web-based TV—"Television on the Web is redefining must-see viewing" we attest, before listing several of the more successful Web TV productions.
The big news here is that it's MTV doing this. Back in 1981 the notion of video-driven Music Television was brand new, surprising and a challenge to the status quo that changed the music industry and had a huge impact on popular culture. Television is increasingly delivered via Web-like mechanisms, so embracing Web-based "TV broadcasting" is the logical next step, and MTV has the production teams, money, technology, and guts to try it out. If anyone can push Web TV shows from niche into the mainstream, it's got to be someone like MTV.
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