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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : October 03, 2006

TV Makers Tap into Online Potential, Creating ‘Webisodes’ and ‘Mobisodes’ Of Popular Shows

TV makers are looking to the internet and mobile industries to reach larger audiences. Established TV formats are being altered to fit the additional media, a development that’s given rise to entire new episodes of TV shows.

by Angelique van Engelen

Aptly named ‘webisodes’ and ‘mobisodes’, the content of the additional shows is totally fresh. Among the first webisodes that are shot especially for a web audience, is NBC’s ‘The Office’. It’s a new trend in the TV industry’s traditional efforts to make money by adding merchandise to popular shows.

NBC produced 10 webisodes that are only shown on its website. The three-minute web versions of "The Office" are stacked with new developments invented by the same makers of the TV show. It’s not the first time that TV networks have tried to reach their audiences via the internet, but research has shown that full episodes are hardly watched online; only one in five TV viewers downloads a TV episode or film in its entirety.

Branching out into other media to promote TV shows is nothing new for TV marketers, who traditionally have been on the forefront of viral marketing trends. Premium cable channel HBO recently worked with Cingular Wireless to make four two-minute "mobisodes" that broadcast new developments of the popular show "Entourage."

The popularity of can be attributed largely to the latest developments in the overlap of TV and online/mobile efforts. An NBC digital media and market development president was quoted by a local newspaper as saying that viewer interest in YouTube shorts has had an impact on the network's online efforts. “I don't know how long this will last, but there's a real premium on short, interesting video," she said. "At this point, people don't seem to care where it comes from. They want to be entertained, amused ... then they're on to the next thing. That's, perhaps, what's right for this medium. I don't think this is the future of television by any means, but there's demand for it."

Tags: mobisodes, television, video, webisodes

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