The Internet is flooded with an endless variety of video, but in the end it all breaks pretty cleanly into two categories: There’s the made-for-the-Web stuff that dominates YouTube, and there’s the made-for-TV stuff that dominates Hulu.
YouTube is trying to change some of that with its “channels” strategy, but Jeff Kwatinetz has his own plan for a middle route: The Hollywood producer is trying to make new episodes of shows that used to be on TV, and show them on the Web.
Kwatinetz and his Prospect Park production firm want to take two long-running ABC soap operas — “All My Children,” which went off the air in September, and “One Life to Live,” which will end in January — and start making new episodes that should look and sound exactly like the originals. Except you’ll need a broadband connection to watch them.
If you’re one of the people who thinks many folks no longer make a distinction between stuff they watch on TV and stuff they watch on the Web, this will make perfect sense. But Kwatinetz has yet to win over enough financial backers, which is why he’s now talking to people like me, hoping we’ll help him make his case.
I don’t have a dog in this fight, except that I do think it’s an interesting idea. And I’m quite sure that someone will take a stab at it soon.
Netflix, for instance, has noodled around with the notion, and may end up trying the same strategy with “Arrested Development,” a former Fox comedy beloved by a relatively small group of fans.
So let’s quickly run through Kwatinetz’s pitch:
Cost: An average hour of one of his soaps currently costs ABC around $160,000 to make, which is outrageously cheap for TV and fantastically expensive for the Web. But Kwatinetz says he’s not going to be able to save much money when he moves the shows online — he’ll still be paying the same writers, actors and production staff. Overall, he figures he’ll need around $80 million to produce both shows for a year, and $65 million in hand to start up production.
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