March 19, 2007
Acceptable.TV Features Hybrid of Voter Control, User-Generated Content

VH1 is launching an intriguing new show at 10 p.m. EST this coming Friday, considered an interactive comedy series that also features user-generated content. The show is called Acceptable.TV, and the premise is that the folks in the Acceptable.TV creative ensemble will create five 3-5 minute pilot episodes that will air on the main show. Viewers will then be able to go to the show's Web site to vote for their favorite episodes that week. The two shows with the top votes will return the next week for another 3-5 minute installment, while the three mini-shows with the fewest votes will be cancelled.

In addition, each week's show will feature the digital short that has receive the most votes from the user-generated content that will be featured on the Web site, meaning that a user-generated version of this same competition will take place on the site, with the top vote-getter each week being featured on the show. The Web site will feature all the user-generated content, as well as both the "acceptable" and "unacceptable" pilots from the television show.

The show is being marketed through the involvement of executive producer Jack Black and also features the creative forces of Channel 101 co-creators Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon. According to the press release, the two "became pioneers of the do-it-yourself TV movement with Channel 101, a competitive forum for digital shorts founded in 2003, anticipating the YouTube revolution by a several years" (sic). Embarrassing typo aside (I have had a few of those in my day as well), you can still see the anti-YouTube-ness come out, even in a Viacom company's press releases these days.

I agree with NewTeeVee's Liz Gannes' take that "the non-professional part is a pretty conservative ratio, and the voting part is no more interactive than American Idol, but that might be a good starting point when it comes to short-form comedy."

Touting this as a user-generated show is a bit of a stretch when five of the six weekly segments are produced by the show's creative team, and the user-driven focus of the voting aspect of the show is not that revolutionary compared to all of the reality shows which use similar models, but marrying those two concepts together and looking at the project as a whole, with the Web site included, provides a much deeper engagement with user-generated content.

If the show gains some traction and becomes fairly popular, and especially if several user-generated videos gain a following, who knows...the user-generated content may eventually be allowed to be put in direct competition with the Acceptable team's content. Then it will be interesting to see which pilots get the most attention on the Web site. The ultimate extension would be to put all the new videos up on the Web, with the top six vote-getters on the Web making it onto the TV show each week, where the audience at large can vote.

But, even in its Accpeptable.TV 1.0 stage, the show presents an interesting model. It's Whose Line Is It, Anyway? in pilot form, with the fans voting for their favorites, and it could provide for some strong television in the process.

Meanwhile, the folks at Revver are just excited that the Revver platform is being used by the show.

Thanks to Ivan Askwith for alerting me to the debut of Acceptable.TV. No one at MTV Networks was contacted during the writing of this piece.