Web series are not exactly a new thing to happen to the entertainment industry, despite most people thinking otherwise. In fact, they have actually been around for years.
However, with so much content now being produced on the web, the ideas that defined a television series and a web series are starting to blur.
Often the two platforms even come together- one of the most popular cases being Comedy Central’s hit show Broad City. Initially developed as a web series, the show was independently produced from 2009 to 2011 on YouTube. In 2014, the series was picked up by Comedy Central and began works as a television series.
Since the emergence of entertainment companies such as Netflix (which provide internet only streaming media), high production series are not even making it to the broadcast networks and exist only online.
Netflix’s hour long episodes of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black are both commonly referred to as “web series” and yet so are, for example, the seven minute YouTube videos of The Katering Show. Web series seem to exist on an open playing field, with some series with budgets of $5,000 to those of over a million dollars. Some filmed in your suburban backyard to others being shot on a studio set.
Yet these short series (many web series are only two minutes long) are becoming so popular, that traditional television viewing is on the decline. A Business Insider’s article on traditional television viewing highlighted that adults over the age of 18 were spending 32% more of their time on the web and apps across an array of devices.
However, the media landscape isn’t the only thing shifting. The way we watch content is changing even more drastically. Televisions aren’t the only devices which make it possible to view your favourite content. The iPhone is just as capable of doing the same job.
Even Liz Shannon Miller explains this change in her piece Are You Watching a TV Show or a Web Series?:
“ Content has become a multi-platform thing — television is no longer a thing you just watch on your television.”
So, this could be some of the reasons for web series becoming more sought after.
Or perhaps it could that a web series’ entire content can be sourced through the internet, giving access to any individual anytime and anywhere. Be it on your smartphone or laptop or tablet- you can watch it!
Another bonus? Well anyone can create a web series and you don’t even need the world of filming resources to do it.
Web series often have the ability to tap into very niche audiences and garner a following.
This could be the last remaining difference between TV and the web, independent producers are not restricted by bureaucracy and have the freedom to create almost anything.