With all the recent talk about official programming being released by cultural producers on the Internet, either in planned marketing campaigns--such as the recent Sci-Fi campaign surrounding its pilot The Amazing Screw-On Head that Jason Mittell wrote about here last week in which Sci-Fi is putting a show they aren't sure about online for fans to help decide the fate of--or in unplanned releases of content--such as with Nobody's Watching, I have to believe that it's important to think in much more detail about the nature of this online communication.
That's why I was thankful that Siddiq Bello passed along a blog entry from Lydia Loizides from earlier this month. Lydia looks at both the positives and the negatives that cultural producers face when allowing people to have such direct early access to their content and cites times in which that seems to have made a major difference--such as the ground-swelling support of Nobody's Watching that has since led the show to be considered once again by NBC. However, on the flip side, she looks at the intense negativity surrounding the release of Blade: The Series from Spike TV.
I've said it before: the only losers in these situations are shows that likely aren't going to do well anyway when they hit the air, so I don't really see that networks have anything to do other than programs being outed for their terrible-ness well before they hit the air. If a program can't even gain grassroots support from a small market, it usually doesn't bode well for its test on a network, and Blade: The Series' negative energy can at least be a lesson in what the show needs to improve on while it is still early in its production series.
Lydia writes that "by tapping into this digital forum, the show's producers will able to gauge, in real-time no less, the response to the program. Take it for what this is worth-but how unbelievably valuable is that?"
Lydia's piece is well worth taking a look at. These are the questions we've been wondering here for some time and one that will carry me over into tomorrow, as I'm planning to write a much lengthier piece on this very topic, based on a recent news commentary from the BBC.