Life through my myopic eyes.

How the Internet Changed the Way We Watch Television


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet has changed the way that we view television. I first noticed the increased presence of the ‘net’ while Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in its relative infancy of seasons.

By the time the series had moved up a gear or two and was entering its third season, my daughter started buying Buffy ‘fan-zines.’ The first thing I noticed was the magazine’s inclusion of several different sites that were forums for fans.

If you logged onto the net, you could access these ‘fan-sites’ and either read the current thread of discussion about the program or enter the debate. The latter choice could be a little disconcerting.

While reading the intense and sometimes heated discussions on the forum I noticed that a few of the more fervent fans would get excited enough to give a figurative ‘bitch-slap’ to folks who disagreed with them.

I, for some reason, thought that these ‘fan-sites’ were indicative of the “Buffy-verse” alone and therefore rather unique. But the internet was a great place for fans of many different television programs to meet and discuss or even bitch about the latest episode that they’d just watched.

Certain programs listened to these fan groups and acted upon  the fan feedback.  Lost, for instance, listened when fans  relayed that the introduction  of two new major characters in the program had resulted in characters that they despised. Producers acted quickly and killed off these two new characters in the same season that they were introduced.

Going back for a moment to the verse of Joss Whedon, it is imperative to mention the huge internet support for Firefly when it was unceremoniously axed by its network. The fans of Joss’s fledgling western/science fiction show rose in mass to show support for the program and to petition the network for a reprieve.

While the fan protest wasn’t enough to save the beleaguered show, it was enough to convince both Joss and the studios that an audience existed for a film. And thus Serenity was created to give the loyal fans some closure for a program that they’d grown to love.

Independent film producers learned very quickly of the power of the internet in areas of marketing their products and drumming up interest in upcoming film releases. Paranormal Activity is one such “internet” driven film but it was by no means the first in a long list of films that would use the net as the perfect advertising tool.

The American re-make of The Grudge (Ju-on) used the web to show ‘diaries’ of the actors and set up a site with a ‘tour’ of the grudge house and a fictional account of one of the producers.

Apart from certain network affiliates I have not seen any increased activity across the board for web ‘snake oil publicity’ with the  exception of The Walking Dead. AMC vigorously utilized the internet in the upcoming months to the pilot  air date of The Walking Dead. They continued the vigorous net campaigning well into the second season.

Of course I’ve not mentioned the new “webisodes” that have taken the net by storm. The hugely popular The Guild, brainchild of Felicia Day is just one of many. Joss Whedon also did a webisode series which coincidentally had Felicia Day in a major role,  Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was another hugely successful venture into this new medium.

I have postulated before about how YouTube was becoming the ‘new’ television and now believe that it’s not just YouTube but the internet that is ‘becoming’ television. Either by replacing it as another medium of entertainment or influencing the direction that existing shows are going.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just check out the first related article, Dr. Horrible is going to be on television in October.

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Categorised in: Entertainment Business, Internet, Technology, Television

3 Responses »

  1. I’ve been following a couple of YouTube channels with interest over the last couple of months – mostly Geek & Sundry (from the aforementioned Felicia Day and Guild crowd) and The Nerdist Channel, being especially aware of these two from the Nerderatti podcasts & websites coming out of the states.

    I’ve got three main observations on it so far:

    1. I’m watching the content faster than they are making it on these particular channels
    2. Promised programming does not appear after big, sexy announcements of them
    3. While production values are pretty good, quality control is not

    There is a bit of a con going on because these internet trailblazer Nerderatti foster an image of accessibility and ordinary people making content, which adds to the perceived appeal to many, but in actuality they are just celebrities making television (albeit through a new “channel”) who have created images to market. It’s still all Telly-land and Hollywood ulitimately. After all – I write a blog but I’ve not got Joss Whedon, McG or JJ Abrams in my mobile. All they’ve done really is tap the forum/blogger/YouTuber market before anybody else – the cynic in will not be convinced that Felicia Day isn’t holding meetings somewhere with producers, agents and execs that involve the words “market”, “demographic”, “budget”, and, sooner or later, “Advertise”.

    You’re not wrong when you say it changes how we watch TV, but in some ways the more things change the more they stay the same.

    • Definitely agree with you there. I wrote a blog ages ago that talked about YouTube ‘becoming’ the new TV. And yes a lot of these ‘channel’ are television webisodes. There was even one being put out by the Disney channel in preparation for a new film they wanted to tout. I do love YouTube, but it is a sort of love/hate thing at the moment. :-)

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