Two years ago — my, how time flies — I was looking at the future, or more specifically, looking at the treatment of revenues and expenses related to Made-for-Internet productions. It was a gray area then, and remains somewhat of a gray area now. There are all sorts of financial issues related to the backend needing to be resolved, but that’s not stopping networks and studios from launching Internet-first productions.
NBC is jumping onto the American Idol bandwagon with a new series called StarTomorrow (in the future, it seems that new series will be camel case rather than separate words, but I’ll let someone else ruminate on that). The series will flow through NBC.com, and while it’s unclear how the weekly voting concept will translate to a time-shifting audience, it’s a worthy experiment for a few key reasons:
“StarTomorrow” will cost about 20 percent of what it would cost to produce for the network; advertisers will also pay less for spots, making it (at least initially easier) to attract their interest (and dollars). More importantly, “StarTomorrow” takes NBC further into the realm of digital entertainment.
By staying in the reality television realm, content producers are likely deferring big backend decisions, but as has been made clear, even reality comes with participations and residuals. It will be interesting to see how this rush to push content online resonates with talent. And, of course, I’ll have thoughts on that issue in the near future.