Just as the Internet has developed legitimacy over the years, the activities created through it have also become validated. As a result, Web series have become one of today’s most popular entertainment forms.
The popularity of Web series first swelled during the 2007-08 Writers’ Strike. When movies and television shows were halted because of the strike, the Internet became one of the few sources of new entertainment. This lead to the flourishing of Web series.
A Web series is a program similar to a television series, except for the fact that it is viewed solely on the Internet. Not all Internet videos are considered Web series; what differentiates them from other videos is the fact that all videos within a Web series are connected by one primary plot. Of course, an attempt to describe them all through one definition is bound for failure. Like the differences in television shows, there are also differences in Web series.
All you need to do is watch a couple of them to see that they all do not follow the same formula. For example, We Need Girlfriends (http://www.weneedgirlfriends.tv) is a show that chronicles the lives of three newly single men in Queens. With 11 seven-minute episodes in their one season, the show follows a more traditional television show format; there is an overall plot that connects the episodes, all while featuring new situations as the show goes on. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, (http://www.drhorrible.com) on the other hand, only has three 15 minute episodes which feature song numbers and a more finite plot, making it is more like a television special than an actual show.
Then, there are series like Ask a Ninja (http://askaninja.com) that share more similarities with Internet videos rather than television shows, featuring two minute episodes that share a premise more than they share a plot.
The differences between Web series is a reflection of the differing kinds of TV shows that inspired their creation. But as many gain fame, the question of what makes them so appealing naturally comes to mind. The undeniably rising popularity of Web series can arguably be attributed to three main aspects: availability, length and originality.
The availability of Web series is relatively unrestrained. As the availability of the Internet grows with the expansion of Wi-Fi beyond homes, phones obtaining the power to surf the Internet from practically anywhere, so does the availability of Web series. While many television shows in their entirety are limited to the television and to DVD sets, Web series can be conveniently viewed wherever the Internet allows.
The shortened length of most episodes also gives them an advantage over TV shows. Since TV shows are typically thirty minutes to an hour long, they require a greater time commitment; some people simply can’t put aside that amount of time in their busy schedules. Web series, on the other hand, allow for a healthy dose of entertainment in a shorter span of time. Then, if the viewer would like to watch more, all they have to do is click on the next installment.
Lastly, there is the originality that Web series are capable of. Creating a show for television involves many more restrictions than creating a show for the Internet does, since there are many stages and obstacles it must go through.
Web series do not necessarily need to go through those same phases; the process of their creation is much different, so there is more creative freedom. Ideas that may not have made the cut for television viewing are able to take the risk on the Internet and possibly gain a healthy following of fans.
Not only is the rising popularity of Web series reflected in audience growth, but it is also reflected in the official recognition of Web series as a serious art form. The Streamy Awards, hosted by new media companies such as Tizly.TV, Tubefilter and NewTeeVee, was created to acknowledge achievements in the field of Web television.
Among the winners of the First Annual Streamy Awards were “The Guild” (Best Comedy Web Series), “Battlestar Galactica: The Face of the Enemy” (Best Dramatic Web Series) and “EPIC FU” (Best Hosted Web Series). Though still fairly new, the Streamy Awards are an important step towards the evolution of Web series into a more valid form of entertainment. The legitimacy of Web series is one that continues to develop along with technology; their opportunities for uninhibited creative expression should continue to be noted and embraced.