Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Gatekeeper's Credo

There's an article in the N.Y. Times (registration required) about an NBC comedy pilot called Nobody's Watching created by Bill Lawrence, who also created Spin City and Scrubs. The last broadcaster interested in the pilot said no 18 months ago. Recently, the pilot was posted to YouTube (part 1, part 2, part 3) and now 330,000 people have viewed part 1 and over 100,000 have viewed the whole thing.

(Hitwise has this article stating that YouTube is currently getting 43% of video viewers on the web and that viewership there has increased by 160% in the last three months. Of 500,000 sites tracked by Hitwise, YouTube comes in at number 42. YouTube has yet to announce its revenue sharing formula, but more websites are following up on the idea of paying for content.)

By American network standards, 300,000 people is nothing. If a show had that many viewers, it would be cancelled instantly. Yet because the show is attracting viewers, ABC, NBC and Comedy Central are interested in the pilot again.

What really gets me about the article is the final paragraph, which could serve as the credo of gatekeepers everywhere.
What Mr. Lawrence really wants right now is for so many people to start talking about his comedy pilot now featured on YouTube that some network executive will decide, "Now I can pick this up and I won't look dumb."
That sums up the situation nicely. It's not about the project, it's about not letting the gatekeeper look dumb.

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