News.com has an interesting piece on independent online-only TV production: Aspiring TV writers get their chops together online. The piece profiles J.D. Rynzar's "Yacht Rock", an offbeat show found online at Channel 101, an IPTV outlet for LA comedy writers. However, the disturbing part of the article is as follows:
Despite their growing popularity, Channel 101 and other online video offerings don't pose a threat to established TV networks that employ phalanxes of middlemen between creator and audience, said Jupiter Research analyst Todd Chanko.
"There are some distinct advantages to being big--it's money for marketing, and it's programming resources and distribution resources, and those simply cannot be ignored," he said. "You're talking about a household name that goes back to the 1920s."
Ironically, for all their frustrations with the TV industry, Schrab and Ryznar said their main goal is still to find success within the mainstream.
Channel 101 has helped them gain visibility, they say.
Several Channel 101 alums have been hired as writers with "Saturday Night Live." Schrab said the project has helped him get work on comic Sarah Silverman's planned new TV show.
As for Ryznar, he's landed an agent and partied with the cast of "The Simpsons," though VH1 turned down an opportunity to develop Yacht Rock into a full-blown TV show.
"The fact of the matter is you cannot make a living doing Internet TV shows at this point, and you may not ever be able to," Ryznar said. "But God, it's such a great medium for making things that don't matter."
This isn't really surprising, but it does raise the question: can IPTV ever become profitable enough to stand on its own as an independent medium, or is doomed to become the video equivalent of zines or self-published novels?