Is the Kiefer Sutherland-starring 'The Confession' a Turning Point for Web Series?
Much is being made of The Confession, an original web series starring Kiefer Sutherland that just concluded on Hulu after premiering in March. The hype isn’t limited to the show itself, instead centering on reports that it has already turned a profit through Hulu’s free ad-driven model. There are plenty of additional revenue streams available for the show, and so the question on everyone’s mind is: does this mean original web series are a viable business model now? Because back when Zack Lieberman and I won the Webby for The West Side, that was not the case. Every studio we met with felt that the online revenue streams were not mature enough to support a decently-budgeted web series, with or without recognizable stars. Is The Confession a “watershed moment?”
Produced by Digital Broadcasting Group without a major sponsor attached (one of the drawbacks to adult-themed, violent content, as Zack and I spent 40+ meetings discovering, is it’s not so easy to brand it), the term “watershed” comes from their own behind-the-scenes video:
It’s funny to see a web series in 2011 treated like it’s 2007 — original dramatic webisodes, imagine that! — but hey, if the success of The Confession means financiers will be more likely to back original web content, I’m all for it. Over the past few years there has been a decided lack of compelling drama online, with the web video landscape dominated by home videos, sophomoric animal tricks, a few action and thriller series, and finally comedy (much of which is very good, in my opinion). Scripted drama, however, has been the exception rather than the rule. So here’s the first episode, which may require log-in due to mature content (and, because it’s Hulu, may be restricted to the United States):
As DIGIDAY points out, however, there are no public viewership statistics available, so the fact that the series is “already profitable” does little to provide an idea of how many total views we’re talking (an issue I’ve mentioned in the past). Regardless of whether the production company and Hulu ever share the viewership numbers, however, here’s to hoping the very success of The Confession will open some doors.
Link: The Confession