Fox Television signs WIGS

This week, apparently, Fox Television signed a deal with the YouTube channel WIGS. WIGS, a drama channel geared toward female viewers, was launched during the YouTube Original Channel initiative last year along with projects like SourceFed and MyMusic. WIGS was unusual being that it had appearances from mainstream celebrities like Julia Stiles and Jennifer Garner, and had a format much more like what you might find on HBO than on YouTube. Right now, it's unclear whether or not Google is continuing to fund WIGS, but apparently Fox is going to be contributing to programming, marketing, ad sales, and distribution.

I have no idea what this deal means. Kevin Reilly, Chairman of Entertainment for Fox says, “Our overarching goal is to create an ecosystem where creative people and ideas can find expression independently in the online environment, but benefit from the resources that the larger platform of the network affords." This makes it sound like he is interested in developing the web as a platform because of it is a less expensive means of distribution. However, he continues to say, "[WIGS has] spent a year building a novel production process and a vibrant alternative pipeline, and we're excited to help them take those tremendous stories and talent and develop them into long-term digital or on-air assets." What intrigues me is the idea of using WIGS to develop long-term content for television instead of just for the web. It almost seems ominous.

Does Fox want to use WIGS and YouTube as a cheap playground to test out TV content, because the potential for new content to fail on TV is so expensive? Is the web going to become a "pilot" portal? Or will it be a final destination for premium drama content? WIGS has already become the number one spot for drama on YouTube, but it's only boasting 100 thousand subscribers, making it seem less viable for long-term growth. In my opinion, for something like WIGS to survive, it can't just be a cheaper alternative to TV. It has to offer something TV can't by utilizing the interactivity of the web platform. We'll have to see what happens.

Good content or good luck?

The internet is saturated in stories of the guys who "made it." At all times I am merely a few clicks away from the success stories of the Ray William Johnsons, Philip DeFrancos, and the Freddie Wongs. Freddie Wong just completed the most successful Kickstarter campaign in the history of the website for his project Video Game High School, and Michael Gallagher of YouTube's "Totally Sketch" recently released his feature film, Smiley.

They could tell us all about their trials and tribulations, and how they eventually made it by working hard, sticking out the hard times, and creating quality content. But as a desperate content creator, how can I be sure they aren't just the lucky chickens who crossed the road?

Freddie Wong once argued that it isn't all about luck. He said that it was all about the content, and he had never seen a video that was truly spectacular that didn't get success (unable to find source). That statement always hung low in my head because I started pondering the logic of this. For one thing, we have to consider of the limited real estate of Wong's YouTube viewing time. By the time the video even reached his eyes, it's likely it had already reached a certain level of exposure and success. Also, we have to consider the logical fallacy of confirmation bias. If he was watching a video with a low amount of views, it's possible he may have spotted flaws to justify such low views. If the video had millions of views, he was probably more likely to identify it's strengths.

The point is, there is a lot of content out there. Freddie Wong hit the nail on the head when he said "if there’s something that a lot of people are fighting to do, you can join the fray, but it’s often easier for you to go somewhere else." If you create completely unique, original content, there are no internet pathways to direct people to you. However, if you follow a trend to point people toward you, you will get swallowed by the competition. With the dire nature of these two options, it's hard to believe that luck is not involved when the cream rises to the top.

I don't know the answer to this riddle. All I know is, after three years on YouTube, it's hard to keep myself from getting jaded.

Interview with Jamie Wright

Jamie Wright
This afternoon I had a chance to chat over Skype with attorney Jamie Wright. Jamie is a general practitioner with an emphasis on entertainment and personal injury.

She initially got involved in entertainment because her LA-based firm had an entertainment practice, and friends kept asking her questions about entertainment contracts. They often asked questions like "does this provision sound fair?" or "am I giving too much of a percentage to this manager?" From there, she took the initiative to research entertainment law on her own. She told me Google is a great starting point to find out if you're being taken advantage of, but she also filled me in on a couple industry standards - managers get 20%, agents shouldn't get more than 15%.

I asked Jamie about common mistakes made by artists and content creators who post stuff online. She brought up copyright infringement, which was to be expected. She warned against reviewing music videos and including footage from the music video without written consent from the copyright owner, or reproducing information that someone else already owns. If I find that I want to use images or video that are not open domain for my channel, she encouraged me to use Google and web resources like Legal Zoom to find documents and advice on how to get permission to use someone else's content for commercial purposes.

But, much to my surprise, she said the biggest problem is defamation. It's one thing to state a negative opinion on the Internet, but if you make a statement that affects the individual's economic value or income, the blogger is likely to be considered legally liable. She advised me to always be mindful of the money – it’s all about the money, and if you’re making money you shouldn’t be or imposing on someone else’s rightful earnings, your more likely to leave yourself open to legal consequences.

Jamie Wright graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science, and is currently licensed to practice law in the State of California. She can be reached on her official website.

Jamie Wright’s Official Website.