New Networks Offer Alternative to TV Upfronts

Listen up, media buyers and planners, creative directors, and marketers. The upfront season is well upon us, and while you should be spending some of your employer’s unbillable hours attending swanky parties and picking up new primetime TV shows for your clients, let’s face it, it’s not business as usual anymore. There’s an exciting new world of content and programming being created outside the major networks and the upfront construct. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and start exploring exciting new possibilities that have emerged from media disruption. As David Day, Lightspeed Research CEO, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, told “Active web users are driving this digital revolution, and players at every step of the value chain need to take notice if they are to realise the opportunities that this explosion in online video consumption represents.”

For one, the new networks emerging in the digital space now allow for a lot more collaboration between brands and content creators, not only in deciding upstream what shows are right for your audience but also codeveloping and distributing that show to reach the audience size you need. In the spirit of the upfront and in continuation from my last column, “Seven Video Content Pioneers to Watch,” here are some of the great new (and yet-to-be-released) shows available for brand partnership and collaboration. (Disclosure: Some of these programs will be featured in the digital NewFront organized by my agency; previews can be seen here in a live stream starting at noon EST, June 3, 2009.)

$99 Music Videos

The idea of creating an online network that pairs the best new independent bands with the best up-and-coming filmmakers is so obvious, it’s hard to believe $99 Music Videos only launched this past year. The rules are simple and fun, and some of the resulting videos look like they would have needed a $99,000 budget — they’re that good! While Verizon was the initial launch sponsor of season one, a whole new season of content and entries are in the making and ripe for a new brand partnership.

“Dick Rathbone, Office Tool”

The first time I previewed “Dick Rathbone,Office Tool” from CBS Interactive I had to close my office door because I was laughing so hard. Unlike most new office-setting shows, where you feel like you’re watching a poor man’s version of “The Office” TV show, this show is original. It takes place entirely in one man’s cubicle, camera locked, and often in one take. It’s fast-paced, funny to the point of tears, and short enough to keep even the most attention-deficit online audiences viewing to completion.

“Get Cookin’ With Paula Deen”

I’m one of those typical New Yorkers who never cook at home yet watch countless hours of cooking shows and search for online recipes they’ll know they’ll never make. These two traits will make me and others very vulnerable to Eqal‘s new cooking Web series and community. Paula Deen’s vlog-style warm and personal performance and her mouth-watering cooking make me (almost) want to move to Savannah and dive into her world for real.


Mom shows continue to be a hot category in online video content. This new series from FremantleMedia combines the Momversation-like intimacy of personal vlogging with the soap opera drama of “Desperate Housewives,” creating an interesting web of characters and storylines, all dealing with various facets of being a parent.

“Jake and Amir”

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with College Humor stars Jake and Amir over the last couple of weeks. Behind their laid-back and hilariously refined personas, these two wear suits and ties and know how to get down to business — a trait hard to find in young, emerging Internet talent. The original series “Jake and Amir” chronicles their (non-fictional?) daily life at College Humor and covers mundane yet somehow viral-worthy topics like e-mail, community service, and snack attacks. Any brand looking for great humorous content and seeking to reach a college demographic (or even slightly older) should consider partnering with this dynamic duo.

“The Kind Life With Alicia Silverstone”

Aside from the great green show “Zaproot,” nothing has really peeked my interest lately in the green online video category. At least not until I saw a sneak preview of Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Life.” This new Eqal series might just make global warming and vegetarian topics seem fresh and hip again.

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 16 events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing.

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