the grass is greener on the internet

The Beautiful Life
February 19, 2010, 12:01 pm
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It was backed by movie star Ashton Kutcher.

It screened on the network which made Gossip Girl a hit.

Elle McPhearson and Mischa Barton were just two out of its cast of beautiful, beautiful people…

So how could the Next Big Thing go so wrong?

I am, of course, talking about The Beautiful Life, the show billed to expose the reality behind the fashion world…which was cancelled in the US after just two episodes.

Okay, you say, so what? Shows like this get cancelled all the time if they don’t make the cut. A soggy script and production that lacked the zing of other CWTV hits just about did the trick in this case.

The difference this time is that instead of disappearing and being bogged down and being left to an internal lobby to get the show on air again, the show has fought back with a Youtube channel featuring unaired episodes.

One of the latest videos, though, is this plea from Ashton Kutcher…

“If we get enough subscribers to the channel, we can afford to make more episodes.”

He’s also pulled in stars of the show to talk about their new year’s resolutions on youtube to get more publicity. (Mischa Barton’s has had about 10 times more hits than Ashton’s.)

What I want to know is…what’s the plan? In a traditional media world, it’s pretty simple – get more subscribers = proving to the network the show will get ratings = show back on air making money in the ad breaks.

But we’re at a critical point in media fragmentation. It’s no longer just internet opinionists touting the end of the TVC; mainstream newspapers have accepted as a fact that online streaming is taking a huge chunk out of TV viewing. Is putting the show back on TV the best option?

There might be an opportunity here. On one hand, I think some re-thinking is needed if the show is to go on in any format. But there’s a passionate fanbase and the fashi0n content could lead to a multitude of product placement deals. Could online screening coupled with ads and product placement be a feasible business model? I think it just might – not to mention the added PR from trying something new. Admittably SuperModelMe is lower budget, but it does show that an internet tv show can work.

Ashton, if you want your baby to work…try something different.


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