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.