In February 2008, Disney launched Stage 9 Digital with an initial roster of shows that included “Trenches,” a 10-part sci-fi series from Felux with a budget of $250,000. But “Trenches,” completed last September, still hasn’t shown up on the Web. In fact, with the exception of its first series, “Squeegees,” a comedy about window washers, none of the more than 20 projects in development at Disney’s digital studio have ever seen the light of day. In March, after little more than a year, Stage 9 shut down.
It’s far from the only Hollywood-backed Internet video business to go dark. 60Frames, an online content company that launched in 2007 with $3.5 million from investors including the United Talent Agency and advertising agency Spot Runner, closed in May. Other Web video flops have included Turner Entertainment’s SuperDeluxe, HBO and AOL’s This Just In, and NBC’s DotComedy.
Of course, Hollywood is having a great deal more luck just throwing their t.v. and movie content onto the web, forget about productions made specifically for the internet. I have to disagree with Scott Kirsner’s op-ed about the reason for these failures being lack of imagination on Hollywood’s part. It could as easily be poor marketing. I watch this space closely and have barely heard of these projects.
Or it could be that Hollywood just expected them to make more money, and sooner, than is reasonable. While the one-man “What the Buck?” show can be supported by YouTube partnership revenues, a full-on mini-show about squeegee men that was shot SAG on a t.v. low budget, has no p.r. to generate buzz and is hidden in some corporate walled garden is not going to ‘go viral’ out of wishful thinking.