As they presented their fall lineups to advertisers in the annual "upfront" presentations this week, the networks went out of their way to insist that online content will be as rich as the productions on the air.
CBS trotted out its head of digital content in a suit and sneakers -- for maximum geek credibility -- to talk about such innovations as a Facebook-style site for " CSI" corpses. NBC announced that it is creating an online magazine based on the fictional magazine in its upcoming drama "Lipstick Jungle." And the CW, following in the path of MTV, is creating a virtual world where fans can visit the sites in the teen soap "Gossip Girl."
It's all time-consuming stuff, but it's getting ahead of the game: Before you go online to "interact" with a TV show, you have to care about the show. And this season, the networks' lineups are most notable for what's absent. Remember all of those plot-driven serials containing deep mysteries? The ones that were supposed to draw hours of online mystery-solving? This season, they're practically gone.
Instead, the new fare fits into a few less mentally taxing categories...
You can read the show by show breakdown here...
But it got me thinking...remember when music videos hit the airwaves? It was soooo cool and exciting to actually 'see' bands and artists that you'd just heard before, or perhaps only seen in magazines. Then they caught on...and networks were created to air these short films set to music...and every band HAD to have a video for their songs. Ahhhh....good times.
And some artists even made some most excellent videos...videos you wanted to see over and over again. But this always presented a chicken and egg dilemma for me...which came first (and which did I like better), the video or the song?
Sometimes both, yes. But mostly, at the end of the day, the music video was really just an advert for the song. The band and the label and the record company weren't producing them to entice you to just watch the video...they wanted you to buy the song.
So even if there was a sexy video, the song still had to rock (Aha's 'Take On Me' comes to mind as one that didn't measure up). And once discerning listeners began to realize that all videos were not necessarily all good songs...yet bands and labels seemed to be spending more energy and focus on the video vs. the song...the thrill was gone. Music buyers backed off, and MTV and MuchMusic are all but unrecognizable today from whence they came.
Same goes for websites devoted to new (and old) TV shows. A commercial for the program is one thing, but there's more focus and energy (and money) getting thrown at these sites than a commercial would get. You can't make consumers like or buy into a show via Flash and Games and Facebook pages for CSI corpses (ugh)...we have to like and care about the show first. Then we'll dig deeper on the internets.
Not the other way around.