After incubating them online, Comedy Central is bringing some of its Web shorts to TV in a new 2 a.m. series, Web Shows. The half-hour series will run several short-form clips that have posted to Comedy's broadband video site as well as new video from Viacom-owned, Web movie producer AtomFilms.
Comedy has slated six episodes of Web Shows to premiere March 6, bringing to TV several shorts it ran first online. The MTV Networks-owned channel announced its first broadband-only development slate to TV critics in July and always left the door open to one day bringing them to TV.
The Web has become at once a haven to creative talent looking to make a name for themselves and fertile ground for TV networks looking to find up-and-comers and try out their stuff to see how audiences will respond.
At the same time, late night has become cable's newest competitive arena with networks including TBS and Cartoon Network debuting more series post-11 p.m. than ever.
Baxter & Maguire, an animated short about a pair of testicles who are best friends, is one of the shows that premiered online and will get a TV run in Web Shows. The series' co-author, King of Queens creator Michael Weithorn, told B&C he came up with the wacky web concept as he angled for deal in cable as King's run draws to a close.
Broadband provided an immediate creative outlet. “My feeling is, 'Let’s get it out there, and if it’s really good and it gets any kind of attention, it’s all been worth it,’” he says. “If the right idea [for TV] comes along, it feels like we’re a few steps ahead.”
Other cable networks have seen success in running compilation TV series of clips culled from across the Internet. Comedy's sister channel VH1 saw success with Web Junk 20, and Bravo tried out Outrageous and Contagious: Viral Video.
Some networks have found talent online and then plucked them to develop new TV shows. MTV launched The Andy Milonakis Show in 2005 after Jimmy Kimmel spotted the baby-faced producer's zany online videos and brought them to the network. Late-night's Carson Daly signed popular YouTube star Brooke “Brookers” Brodack to a TV/Internet/mobile talent-and-development deal with his production company.
“As we start to develop more of these [broadband shows], it’s our hope and goal to get linear-TV plays out of our short-form content,” MTV VP of production Tim Healy told B&C.
Many of Web Shows' videos will be minutes-long clips from Comedy's broadband Website Motherload. They include Balloon Heads, a parody of celebrity; I Love The 30s, a spoof on the VH1 nostalgic countdown show; and Tiny Hands, a live-action show about a man whose hands are the size of a baby's.