Who Wants Web Series?

Leap Year on YouTube
Eliza Dushku appeared in 3 episodes of the web series Leap Year in 2012. Dushku was excited to be a part of the project and loves web series “because that’s where more people are. The internet has clearly exploded in the last few years—you can access whatever you want to watch on your iPhones or your Androids. It’s definitely more user friendly and instantly accessible, and there is really creative, cool stuff going on. You get to really play, to really explore, and to have creative license and freedom."

The thing is, Leap Year has 1014 subscribers on YouTube. Season 1 episodes don't break 5 digit view counts, and season 2 episodes don't break 6 digits - despite celebrity appearances from Dushku and Emma Caulfield. Were I not researching web series online, I would not even know Leap Year existed, and even then, I got the news a year late.

Granted, this series is intended for Hulu. Often times, when I surf the web for information about web series, I hear tales of the original content on Hulu, and yet I don't know a single person who watches a Hulu show. I've never seen a Hulu show shared or discussed on my Facebook feed. Even going to the Hulu web site, I can't find original content even if I wanted to. The Genres page doesn't have an "original" or "web series" category. It's been six years since "The Guild," and yet, web series still isn't "a thing."

That is, it isn't "a thing" for audiences. It's a thing for content creators and filmmakers. It's a thing for creatives to experiment, sure, but that experimentation costs money. Thus, it's a thing for creatives to spin their wheels, and infect each other with false hope and to sweet-talk cash out of investors who salivate over the sexy, ever-growing web content consumption numbers. Yes, people are watching video online. Yes, more and more people are flocking to YouTube. But they are not watching long-form narrative content, no matter how badly we want them to.

If we're going to present series to web audiences we have to stop lying to each other about the way the web is now. We know that people will watch long-form content online - I just consumed the entire first four Seasons of SyFy's Eureka on Netflix without so much as glancing at a single second of it on television. Web series needs a portal of legitimacy. We need to point people to a home for web series where audiences know they will find quality content, so we can watch the numbers rise.

Come on, Hulu. Come on, YouTube. Us dreamers are counting on you.