Thursday 25th May 2017,
Televisual

Finding a Comedy Audience in a Crowded Web Series Market

Originally posted at Ronebreak.

[Note: I had a very insightful interview with MyDamnChannel’s CEO and a representative from FTVS’ 15 Gigs, both of which are really thinking about how to scale the web series market. I’ll be posting more of that interview in the coming week.]

Online comedy hasn’t been kind to television studios looking to break in. Remember Turner’s SuperDeluxe or NBC’s DotComedy? FunnyOrDie and CollegeHumor still run the game, but competition’s always bubbling up.

Fox Television Studios and its digital arm 15 Gigs’ have decided they need a more targeted push for their series Iceman Chronicles, so they’ve partnered up with comedy upstart MyDamnChannel, who’s looking to expand its library including such hits as You Suck At Photoshop and IKEA’s Easy to Assemble.

“Fox is really putting some muscle and smarts and money into really solid productions. That caught our attention,” MyDamnChannel CEO Rob Barnett said of his new partner, who worked with production company Drama 3/4 to develop Iceman, which has been on YouTube since last year but has been only been watched a few thousand times. Fox has plans to do more original work with MyDamnChannel.

Debuting its first two episodes yesterday with new ones coming each week, Iceman Chronicles is a dark comedy about a set of murders in a small desert town, a more murderous and funny Twin Peaks. As the town searches for the killer, events become screwier and more outrageous.

For Fox, MyDamnChannel offers a more focused and dedicated audience than Hulu, where a lot of its original series were posted last summer, or YouTube, where thousands of videos get lost in the shuffle. Iceman may have missed its target audience on YouTube. 15 Gigs created a small slate of series last year, some of which racked up some numbers and even expanded, though perhaps not reaching the levels expected.

“We needed that audience to be communicating with,” Rachel Webber, director of digital strategy and development for 15 Gigs.

Meanwhile, MyDamnChannel is looking to further differentiate itself in the crowded field of web comedy. When the site launched in 2007, there were already competitors in place or starting up, not to mention the hundreds of independent comedians on YouTube. MyDamnChannel managed to stick through it and has built a small base of support (with some help from its own YouTube channel). Still, high quality content is rare online and websites must crank out hits consistently.

“You can note the difference right away when looking at a few frames of the Iceman Chronicles and then looking at a few frames of your basic, everyday, throw-it-up-on-the-web video,” Barnett said.

What Barnett said finds inspiring, in spite of the persistent challenge of finding advertisers, is how many entrepreneurs are creating original content for the web. MyDamnChannel gets pitched shows 10 to 15 times day, many more times than when the site first began.

“It’s growing, while other forms of media life are all shrinking,” he said. “People are literally unplugging their TV sets.”

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About The Author

Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. He writes about media and society for a number of publications. For more information, click the "About" tab at the top of the page.

3 Comments

  1. roguecowgirl February 27, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    This is helpful to me. Especially since I’m writing/producing a comedy web series.

  2. Vera Bonsee January 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    “God writes a lot of comedy… the trouble is, he’s stuck with so many bad actors who don’t know how to play funny.” ~Garrison Keillor

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