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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

YouTube as Minor Leagues for Media Companies

One assertion in this LA Times piece about YouTub really jumped out at me: "Major TV studios have also started trolling YouTube and similar destinations for the next generation of acting and directing talent."

Scott Collins' story continues:

    In the process, the Web is offering the kind of instant connection to Hollywood that countless denizens of public-access talk shows have craved and seldom received.

    For example, Twentieth Century Fox Television, producer of "The Simpsons" and "24," has junior executives scouring the video-sharing sites. "We also have a casting executive assigned to discovering new talent, and these sites can be particularly fertile ground," Jane Francis, senior vice president of Fox's boutique programming arm Fox 21, said in a statement. "While these efforts have not yet resulted in a major piece of casting or story idea or project, we believe it is only a matter of time."

    In fact, the networks may need YouTube more than YouTube needs them.

    The most-watched video on the site is "Evolution of Dance," in which motivational speaker Judson Laipply spends six thoroughly silly minutes grooving onstage to song samples like "Kung Fu Fighting" and "What Is Love." Since April 6, the clip has been watched more than 24 million times — a viewership figure far larger than any current network sitcom can boast.

    It doesn't mean prime time will soon be filled with faux music videos by a teenager who borrowed his dad's digital camera. As [Carson] Daly put it, "I don't think you'll see a 30-minute sitcom made from someone's bedroom."

    But at the very least, Hollywood's gate-keeping practices might change: Schwabs' Drugstore may have been reinvented, electronically.