FRIDAY 11 PM: For all the pull the Internet has on younger viewers, no Web property has yet been able to successfully migrate to TV. It may be because it needs more time – music, which was an early Internet adopter, already produced a few bona fide superstars who started on the Web, including Justin Bieber. Using the Internet for storytelling is less mature, which is probably why most crossovers to TV so far have failed. There are two more that will try to buck the trend over the next week: CBS on Thursday is launching the comedy $#*! My Dad Says based on Justin Halpern’s hugely popular Twitter feed with 1.7 million followers, and a telefilm, Fred: The Movie, is premiering on 2 consecutive nights on Nickelodeon this weekend. It is based on the hit YouTube series of shorts by teen Lucas Cruikshank whose Fred channel has received over 593 million video views and is listed as the number two all-time most subscribed YouTube channel with 1.9 subscribers. While $#*! is being made through the traditional network development system, Fred was independently produced. Brian Robbins (Smallville, Blue Mountain State, Sonny with a Chance) co-financed the film and took it to Nickelodeon with the intention to release it theatrically. However, the two sides eventually decided to take the High School Musical route, starting off with as a TV movie and potentially going theatrically with one or both of the 2 sequels already in the works. (Robbins owns international and video rights and is releasing the first movie theatrically in the U.K.)
Basing a show or a film on an Internet hit certainly helps with the launch because of the name recognition – $#*! has been consistently tracking well in viewer awareness over the summer. From then on, it’s all about how good the TV show or movie are on their own. Because as great as Internet snippets are, it takes a lot more to make a great TV program. But it’s certainly a great starting-off point. For instance, I’m curious to see the $#*! episode based on this line from Justin’s 74-year-old dad (played by William Shatner on the CBS series) posted today: “You came out of your mom looking like shit. She thought you were beautiful. Don’t know what scared me most, your looks or her judgment.”
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