Launched yesterday, “My Damn Channel” is the latest online video venture that puts professionally produced content at its heart, rather than the user-generated affair found on sites like YouTube. The creation of former MTV and CBS Radio executive, Rob Barnett, the new venture appears to take its inspiration from the buzz created by the Will Ferrell video “The Landlord,” which helped launch Ferrell’s own site, FunnyorDie.com.
“My Damn Channel”currently features original productions by comedian Harry Shearer (“This is Spinal Tap”) who makes his debut as an all-singing Dick Cheney; music producer Don Was; indie filmmaker David Wain (“Wet Hot American Summer,” “The Ten”); and Andy Milonakis (“The Andy Milonakis Show,” MTV).
The premise behind the site is that Internet audiences want to see professionally produced programming, not just amateur offerings, and that for established artists the new medium gives them more freedom and creative control than that offered by traditional TV.
“My Damn Channel” is further evidence of a growing trend in which original content is being produced for an online audience, either for its debut or bypassing traditional distribution altogether. Earlier in the year we reported on CBS’ purchase of the production company behind the show “Wallstrip”, noting that the media giant aims to leverage what the team have learnt from their early online video experiments. And more recently, Revision3, producers of the geek news show, Diggnation, and the cooking series, ‘Ctrl-Alt-Chicken’, announced that they’d raised a further $8million of funding. There have also been reports that News Corp-owned MySpace is commisioning its own Internet TV series, spending as much as $400,000 per episode.
As audiences continue to move online and away from traditional media — with advertising dollars following closely behind — we’re going to see more and more professionally produced video making its way onto the Internet. Which shows are viable will depend largely on if they appeal to a sizeable enough audience, but also whether production costs remain competitive, advertisers can be matched, and the right decentralized distribution strategy executed (see our previous post ‘CBS’ new online video strategy: court web 2.0‘).