DigVid Review: Fringe on the Internet's fringe
Many publications breathlessly reported that pilots were – gasp! – leaking out on the Internet via BitTorrent. Among these so far are Fox’s new show from J.J. Abrams, Fringe, and David E. Kelley’s remake of the U.K.’s Life on Mars. (Note that Fringe, which doesn’t actually exist yet, already has its own fan site and what looks like it will be a really cool site on Fox.com.)
A quick check on Google reveals that yes, indeed, I can go to Pirate Bay and download Fringe and Life on Mars with relatively little effort. But I’m in agreement with Robin from the U.K. who made the following commented after TV Week’s story: “I’m still not seeing the downside of pilot leaks. For three months thousands of people will be talking about Fringe and recommending it to their less techno-savvy friends and family.”
I think the downside comes if there’s a day when so many people are downloading shows off pirate sites that it actually affects a show’s broadcast premiere and future audience levels, but so far that is definitely not the case. If anything, as Robin points out, leaking the show on the Internet should just boost its buzz if it’s any good. If it’s not good, it will likely go away anyway. (OK, there are many exceptions to that rule, I realize. I have no idea why According to Jim was on the air as long as it was.)
Shows have been leaked on line for a few years now: According to the Televisionista blogger – and honestly I don’t know how authoritative Mr. or Ms. Televisionista is – NBC’s Joey, Fox’s Prison Break, NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and ABC’s Pushing Daisies have been some of the pilots available on the Internet in recent years. Of those four, Prison Break and Pushing Daisies have remained on the air. Those shows are well-done but modest successes at best. I think that’s less about pre-premiere leaking and more about appealing to broad audiences. In the end, I think it helps a show far more than it hurts it to get a little pre-premiere Internet publicity.
CBS’ new incentive program through its relatively new Local Ad Network smartly takes a page from Google Ad Share, a service in which I have participated although I am far too lazy to have ever blogged enough to earn any share. Bloggers from all over the country can partner with CBS-owned stations in 13 markets, adding embeddable news widgets to their Web sites, blogs and social-network profiles. The widgets supply ad-supported real-time news feeds that link back to full stories and videos at wcbstv.com. Participants will receive a portion of the ad revenue generated by CBS LAN as a result of traffic being driven back to its site through the widgets. Who knows if it will make CBS any money, but it sounds like a great idea to me.