What will be the impact of Quarterlife on the future of online video? It's hard to say, but one thing is for certain: the evolution of online video series continue to move forward. In short, the creators of My So-Called Life and thirtysomething, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, are releasing a new television series on the Web, through MySpace. The show, which will debut on Nov. 11 and run for 18 weeks, with two new eight-minute episodes a week, will focus on a group of characters in their 20s.
Daisy Whitney at TelevisionWeek points out that this news is particularly relevant coming after the announcement from Warner Bros. Television Group for the production of 23 new series produced for online video, all short-form content. The business model will be through ad revenue sharing with MySpace.
The background for the show? It was originally a pilot for ABC, which was ultimately not picked up.
The duo has decided to keep the show as a high-quality video series, except with online distribution instead of in a traditional television lineup. Plans include creating a site around the show, basically building a focused social network for the age range the show appeals to. The show is based on the idea of the pilot once ordered by ABC, but the cast will be different.
Plans are to make the show available through other sites, perhaps YouTube and iTunes as wel, in addition to Quarterlife.com. According to Steven Zeitchik's Variety article:
For the pair, the move is a gamble that the added creative control will be worth the tradeoff in budgets. Herskovitz acknowledged that while budgets will run higher than with most Web-original projects, they will come in lower than on similar TV productions.
Pair could mine the Quarterlife.com site for potential writers and ideas for the show and will also dip their toes into the user-generated model by making scripts and episodes available on the site for suggestions and mashups.
What will online video mean for more independence in television production? The Quarterlife team say they will have a freedom they never had on a traditional television lineup, but will that mean more provocative or higher-quality content? Time will tell, but the question still stands...what does online video mean for more autonomous television production? Even though MySpace is a major player in this equation, the revenue model that Herskovitz and Zwick have set out leaves the control squarely in their hands. This may be the most substantial case to watch yet in terms of a viable online video property.