Television on the Web Is Redefining Must-See Viewing

The boldest move in network TV this fall? “The Big Bang Theory” is moving to Thursday nights. Yawn. But on the Web, new-media networks like Funny or Die and performers such as Felicia Day are producing imaginative shows that redefine must-see viewing — whether you watch on an iPad or a Web-enabled TV. Sit back, relax, and reprogram your prime time.

Television on the Web Is Redefining Must-See Viewing

Funny or Die

Founded in 2007 by Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, and Adam McKay, with funding from Sequoia Capital, Funny or Die has made agility its biggest asset. The site relies almost exclusively on one-off, zeitgeist-driven comedy shorts, spreading the word among its 1.5 million Twitter followers and 1.1 million Facebook fans to attract as many as 10 million viewers a month who press play some 35 million times. “If there’s a formula, then you’re doing it wrong,” Glover says. “It really is a social dynamic, being part of folks’ lives in a meaningful way.” “Read More


Next New Networks

As host of the Web series Freezer Burns, Gregory Ng has a dream gig–if you’re a college kid who just attended a Phish concert. Ng, a creative director at a Raleigh, North Carolina, marketing company by day, masochistically ventures deep into the frozen-food aisle to review delicacies such as Carvel Cinnabon Slice’mmms Ice Cream Roll. “I’ve consumed more varieties of frozen food than anyone else on the planet,” he says. His goal? To be renowned as the “Frozen Food Master.” (Take that, Mrs. Paul.) “Read More

Only in a Web series would inebriation and The Legend of Zelda be a match made in heaven. But ever since a gas-station attendant woke up hungover inside the classic Nintendo game nearly two years ago, The Legend of Neil has been one of‘s most successful franchises. “Read More


So far as I know, Babelgum is the only company paying Web-video creators money up front,” says chief revenue officer Douglas Dicconson. And not for low-brow stuff, but ambitious professional works such as British documentarian Daniel Edelstyn’s Vodka Empire, the unlikely 25-part saga of his discovery that he’s heir to a Ukrainian vodka factory, and his attempt to bring Zorokovich 1917 to the modern spirits world. “Read More


One Fine Day

I danced for four hours in high heels,” Felicia Day says by way of apology for her morning-after sluggishness. Last night was the wrap party for season four of her Web series The Guild, and for once it was no set-up-the-Rock-Band-in-the-living-room shindig. “Read More

Independent Spirits

Actor-comedian Donald Glover formed this sketch group with Dominic Dierkes and DC Pierson while a student at New York University, and it proved more important than his education: Glover was writing for 30 Rock after graduation, and he now stars in NBC’s Community. The group still posts videos online–don’t miss Gink, its Web 2.0 parody–and released the feature film Mystery Team last year. “Read More

In Good Company

Ikea recently ordered a third season of this breakout comedy series, starring Illeana Douglas as–wait for it!–an actress who works at Ikea Burbank. Even with the in-your-face product place-ment, Easy to Assemble is scoring with critics (it won a Streamy for best ensemble); celebs (cameos from Jane Lynch and Jeff Gold-blum); and viewers (9 million–plus streams since 2008). “Read More


Web Exclusives

Actor Kevin Pollak Reinvents Himself With Web Video

In his 30-year career, Kevin Pollak has appeared in more than 60 films and created indelible roles in such modern classics as A Few Good Men and The Usual Suspects. His Internet awakening occurred in 2009, when he started his Streamy Award winning weekly talk show Kevin Pollak Chat Show (as always, he’s Chat Show) backed by Jason Calacanis (Mahalo). “Read More

Al Thompson Uses Web Video to Fill the Void in the Internet’s Heart

The creator of the comedy Johnny B. Homeless will premiere his new drama Lenox Avenue this fall, which has already received critical praise, and features an impressive cast, including Michael K. Williams of The Wire. Nostalgic for the TV programming of the late 80s and early 90s, Thompson has set out to create series with heart, and he talked to us about it. “Read More

Comedian Eugene Mirman Talks About How Web Videos Have Made Him Sort of Famous

Eugene Mirman started creating original Web content back when most of us were still using dial-up. As the online world has grown, so has the comedian’s career. Between stand-up performances, film, and TV gigs (he plays the bad guy on Delocated on Adult Swim–season 2 debuts August 22–and one of the voices on Fox’s 2011 animated comedy Bob’s Burgers), Mirman took some time to tell us about his lasting love affair with Web video. “Read More


Five Behind-the-Scenes Stars of Web TV Pick Their Favorite Shows

I love Between Two Ferns, Zach Galifianakis’s show. I also love The Guild and The Bannen Way, said Odd Job Nation creator Jeremy Redleaf. “Read More

Getting Serious About Web Drama

Susan Miller, co-creator of hit drama Anyone But Me, is a Hollywood vet, having worked on shows including The L Word and Thirtysomething. But working in online TV has been a whole new education, complete with new challenges and new opportunities. We talked to her about it. “Read More


Honor Student Gets a Straight “A” From Funny or Die

The sketch group Honor Student is David Neher, Matt Villines, Osmany Rodriguez, Jennie Pierson, Daniel Cirilo, and John McKinney. They’ve been making Internet videos since 2006, but their work with Funny or Die has led to greater exposure, including slots on the HBO late-night show Funny or Die Presents. We caught up with Neher and Pierson separately via email and stitched their answers together. Think of it as The Newlywed Game as a Funny or Die sketch. “Read More

Jake of Jake and Amir Doesn’t Fight His Web Popularity

Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld have found a loyal following of fans that regularly sign on to see the duo quarrel throughout the College Humor offices. Did they have any idea their series Jake and Amir would be a hit? Not quite: They didn’t even know they were making a series. Hurwitz talked to us about the show’s unlikely evolution. “Read More

Jeremy Redleaf Makes a Career as President of Odd Job Nation

There’s a reason Jeremy Redleaf is so good at producing a show about odd jobs: He works them. When he’s not churning out episodes of Odd Job Nation, the hit Web comedy series about a hotshot-turned-odd-jobber, Redleaf runs, its companion job-finding site. He’s also head of Resume Shirts, a more irreverent Internet service that lets users pay to wear their credentials. “Read More


The Sklar Brothers Stay Fresh and Creative With Web Video

Brothers Randy and Jason Sklar have been innovators in Web series, doing Layers for TBS’ SuperDeluxe back in 2006 and Back on Topps for Michael Eisner’s Web production company Vuguru. Back on Topps won a Streamy this year for best branded entertainment series and set a high bar for how to integrate brands into shows and be funny. “Read More

What’s the Future of Web TV?

With out little Internet machines here, you can share a joke on a much broader scale. On the playground you just used to tell jokes, and now you can just spread it faster to a lot more people. Content spreads farther faster. I think narrative is going to become more interactive,” said Dan Fietsam. “Read More

An Authentic Few Minutes with Web Video Pioneer David Prager

When Comcast swallowed up the geek-run TechTV and merged it with G4 in the early aughts, a small group of the channel’s former hosts broke from the corporate decision to start their own network. “We decided to continue to make the hardcore, niche techy-stuff,” says David Prager, a veteran of TechTV. “And we were kind of in the right place at the right time–basically at the birth of Internet video.” After catching the attention of former Digg CEO Jay Adelson, who provided their earliest funding, Prager and pal Kevin Rose founded Revision3, an Internet television network devoted to ultra-niche tech topics. “Read More


Hot Damn! My Damn Channel, the HBO for the Internet, Turns Three

Rob Barnett is in a “sleepless snit.” Luckily, it’s the good kind. He’s suffering through sleepless nights because his online video network, My Damn Channel, is celebrating its third anniversary. It announced the winner of its “3some” user-submitted video contest this morning. And his constantly ringing phone may also have something to do with it. “Read More

Tom Bannister Checks In on Branded Web Video

Does Alex Trebek shave against the grain? Does Karolina Kurkova use SPF 125? These are the do-or-die details magazine underlings Russell (Peter Karinen) and Dylan (Brian Sacca) must confirm in the new eight-episode NBC Digital series FCU: Fact-Checkers Unit. [Ed. note: We feel their pain.] We called executive producer Tom Bannister, whose production company, SXM, also helmed NBC’s well-received Web series CTRL (starring Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale as an office-worker with a magical keyboard), to get the inside scoop on FCU, which debuted this week. “Read More

Lisa Kudrow Heals Boredom With Web Therapy

Lisa Kudrow might be best known as Phoebe from Friends, but she’s making Internet waves as Fiona, a self-absorbed shrink who counsels her clients via iChat on the hit online comedy series Web Therapy. As the show gears up for its TV debut next spring on Showtime, we caught up with its Emmy-winning star to talk product placement, celebrity cameos, and the perks (or not) of being sponsored by Lexus. “Read More


Illeana Douglas Assembles The Web’s Most Beloved Hit Show–No Allen Wrench Required

Watching cameos from the likes of Jane Lynch and Jeff Goldblum, it’s easy to forget that the breakout Web series Easy to Assemble is, at its core, one giant Ikea commercial. And what a commercial it’s been: Season two of the series has earned more than 13 million views. The kudos belong to creator Illeana, who also stars as–meta alert!–an actress who works at Ikea Burbank. Season three debuts this fall on, and Douglas recently chatted with us about what to expect in the new season, Swedish meatballs, and how one Web show can help revitalize an entire brand. “Read More

Debunking the Debunking of the Cable Cord Cutters

The August 23, 2010 edition of The New York Times features a big package on “The Sofa Wars,” about the battle for living room entertainment between entrenched powers and next-gen Internet services. The lead piece (at least online) is a delightfully silly article that promotes the idea that “cord-cutting,” or dumping cable or satellite television for watching only online video, is “perhaps the most overhyped and overanticipated phenomenon in tech history” and more than implying that it’s never going to happen. “Read More