People have long anticipated the convergence between broadcast television and Internet video, and according to recent reports, it’s beginning to happen at an unprecedented level. Over the next few months, YouTube, Netflix, Yahoo, and Hulu will be pushing into the terrain of the traditional television market with all the markers of money, talent, production value, star power, and overall quality programming. Up till now, such Internet companies have just experimented with this kind of programming. But now video sites are partnering up with seasoned professionals to push the first wave, starting this February, including:
- Netflix will premiere its first scripted show Lilyhammer in which The Sopranos’ Steve Van Zandt plays a New York mobster in witness protection in Norway.
- Hulu will soon premiere Battleground, a mock political documentary.
- Also, YouTube recently launched an entire catalog of original programming, spending $100 million on the gradual rollout of more than 100 niche-oriented channels.
- And Yahoo has comedy programming planned for February. Its first scripted entry will be Electric City, a futuristic animated series produced by Tom Hanks, who will also voice a character.
James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, says the fact that Hanks is making a series for the Internet shows how the traditional TV system is “ready to unravel.” McQuivey says the disruption in video will “unfold in front of us like a slow-mo replay of an accident.”
“The new content won’t be as good as what you watch Thursday nights from 9 to 10 p.m., but it’s going to get closer to that quality,” he adds. “And it’s certainly as good as what you watch on Thursday from 3 to 4 in the afternoon or Saturday morning from 10 to 11.”
All this is good news for actors! This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as casting calls are concerned. In addition to TV auditions, now new Internet shows are opening up casting opportunities for actors like never before. So, be prepared!