This past week, the William Morris talent agency announced that it would be forming a partnership with UK-based online TV group Narrowstep to give William Morris clients Internet channels. The programming on these channels would be free to view and supported by advertising content.
The partnership with Narrowstep includes creating mobile content as well.
Steve Safran with Lost Remote points out that such deals "could mean a web channel for every star," what he terms "another disruption in the traditional media mold."
Interestingly, Safran questions that, if talents were going to create their own channels and bypass traditional media in reaching the audience with entertainment properties, why would they need the agents, either? "Agents, after all, are the ultimate middle-men."
Of course, Steve's being facetious, and this digital deal with Narrowstep is only a minute part of what William Morris purports to offer its talents.
The question is an interesting one, how best to sell talents. Creating branded channels for each talent, and creating original Web-based entertainment properties around them, would be most interesting for talent hoping to get greater attention, the ones who need the push of viral marketing to push them over.
It makes me wonder, though, how "grabbable" and "mashable" and "quotable" this content will be. Considering that the video properties William Morris and Narrowstep are pushing will basically be public relations/advertising for the star images of the talent on the William Morris roster, it seems like making the content as accessible as possible to viral marketers would be beneficial, but I'm wondering how guarded William Morris/Narrowstep will be over the content. For more on these debates, see other posts from this weekend here and here.
Meanwhile, David Kaplan over at paidContent links this decision with the announcement back in January that United Talent Agency would form a partnership with Veoh for a similar online channel, as well another comparable agreement bck in November between Creative Artists Agency and Revver.
The full press release, available here, highlights that "the partnership will bring together content creators, advertiser and distributors continuing the democratization of media created by the merging of TV and the internet."