One of the most interesting developments of the TV (R)Evolution is the new frontier that’s being created by the next generation of web series.
What exactly is a web series? An easy definition is a video series, usually made up of short 5-10 min episodes, either scripted or scripted reality, that is delivered and distributed mostly through free video platforms such as YouTube.
Why is it important? If you haven’t noticed, the world is sharing more video content than ever before and people are creating hours of content to be consumed in bite size portions.
We’re uploading an hour of video footage every second and there are 4 billions views on YouTube per day (!!!!)
As these user created videos take on cohesive storylines and narratives, they become “Web Television” and this new medium has already spawned a network of festivals around the globe, like the SF Web Festival, which debuted last week at the New People Cinema in San Francisco.
“It was time for content creators and distributors to connect and be in the same room,” says, Laura Wainer, President and Founder of SF Web Fest.
For over 2 days, the festival featured episodes from 44 different projects that were the official selections of the festival, meticulously chosen by a professional jury who went through 148 projects to reach their choices.
In addition to showcasing top web series, the organizers also wanted to educate the audience with keynote speeches and panels featuring the best and brightest people in the industry. Featured speakers included Will Keenan, President, Endemol BEYOND (USA), Bernie Su, Executive Producer The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Tiffany Shlain, filmmaker, the Moxie Institute and Webby Awards founder, and Issa Rae, Creator, Awkward Black Girl.
There was even an acquisition forum, designed for executives to participate in a round robin style event, where nominated series creators got to pitch their shows to distributors.
One of the goals of the event was to get one series a distribution deal, which happened when the series LA Macabre, got a distribution opportunity with Proven Entertainment.
A lot of knowledge was exchanged over the two days – a lot of conversation around building and engaging audiences, what kind of content to create, metrics to measure and origin stories from some of the industry’s finest.
Top take aways from the event:
- Know your audience, what platform they hang out on–then deliver great content and a lot of it.
- Know thy social media platform–if your audience is hanging on a new social media platform–learn how to work that platform from your audience that is already native on it.
- Build your audience and keep them engaged by giving them a steady stream of content and interaction.
- Know your metrics and how to measure them.
- If you want to start working with brands: You need to have tangible metrics and a large audience following your web series–brands are risk averse and won’t go with a web series unless it’s proven
- Interaction is encouraged, not required. Create levels of interaction to lead your audience down a rich and exciting rabbit hole
- There are many ways to monetize and distribute–think outside the box
- Think of a web-series like a campaign/startup–you need to think about the whole system, not just content creation
- Even if you have a small budget, take care of your crew first–they will grow as you grow
And there were many more ideas, thoughts and encouragements to this fledgling industry.
In essence, the wild west, new frontier (or any other nomenclature one wishes to use) of content creation and web series is alive and kicking.
There are so many opportunities for creators to reach their audiences through the many platforms they may congregate on.
As more and more people keep streaming content on all screens, web series will no longer be the frontier, but the status quo. There is a promise of a lot more interesting content and tech coming our way.
Check our SFWebfest for more info about the the winners, nominees and other speakers.