Original Internet Programs Kick Off: Is TV Afraid Yet?

February 14, 2012

This month is shaping up to be the “soft opening” of the internet video streaming industry’s plan to go head-to-head with broadcast and cable TV in the original programming game.

With the quiet launches of Netflix’s mobster series “Lilyhammer” (OK, they had me the second I saw the poster to the right) and Hulu’s political campaign comedy “Battleground,” two of the biggest video streaming services are making a big bet that they can attract and retain viewers with exclusive content – and these shows seem to merely be the calm before the storm.

Later this year, Netflix is debuting the David Fincher series, “House of Cards” — which it spent $100 million (!!) on for 26 episodes — and the return of the cult sitcom “Arrested Development.” Hulu is also promising more original shows, and YouTube, not to be left out, should be rolling out its 100+ niche channels soon. So what we’re seeing this week is really just the “soft opening”; the restaurant really doesn’t open up for good for awhile.

Yes, TV is alive and well, albeit in large part thanks to the rise of “second screen” viewing. Just look at Sunday night’s Grammy’s as the latest example: According to AllThingsD, the awards show enjoyed its second largest audience ever, a 50 percent ratings increase from last year, and 13 million “social media comments” — more than the previous week’s Super Bowl (!!). TV is drawing its biggest audiences ever, that’s true, but the Grammy’s are an event, not a TV show; same goes for the Super Bowl.

Actual TV shows, on the other hand, which are aplenty these days, have seen their ratings drop for years. Based on my quick research, you just don’t see a 10.0 rating much nowadays beyond “American Idol,” as the programming competition and ease at which you can enjoy content continues to increase. Perhaps Netflix and co. are pouncing at just the right time, as audiences are looking more and more to TV for “event” viewing, and elsewhere for their day-to-day content.

Below is the trailer for the first-ever video-streaming service original program, Netflix’s “Lilyhammer.” Who knows, people could be looking at this years from now as the modern-day “Twister,” which according to IMDB is the first-ever movie released on DVD (how about that for some trivia)?