We have a lot of ambassadors in this still-developing world of online video, but perhaps none as big as Felicia Day, who in the TV/film world is another nice character actress that fans of nerdy shows love, but in the online world is pretty much a queen. "The Guild" is a huge hit and it is the model for people who aspire to make short-form series and video in general. This year, YouTube backed her Geek & Sundry channel as part of the Original Channels Initiative. She recently talked to Wired with some advice and an outlook on online video today.
Felicia Day Talks Niche Programming & Finding an Audience
Here's the video from Wired:
Here are a few things I found interesting in this video. Day says:
1) Don't think of your web series as only narrative entertainment, think of it as a brand. And this brand is a niche entertainment. Day says that through her experiences on "The Guild," she realized that this kind of show would not be accepted (or work) on regular TV/cable, and it is uniquely set up to succeed online.
2) Niche programming is the only thing that is sale-able unless you have "network reach." In other words, unless you're a big media company, you probably can't sell a regular 30-minute sitcom or hour-long drama.
3) If you cater to a very small niche, it's easier to find the audience for that. If you can find the niche audience, then you have a better shot at reaching a wider audience through the initial viewers. You are building a community of like-minded people who enjoy similar things.
4) When creating a show or series of shows, you have to scale down to your budget, and you have to make the best that you can based on that budget. Day has her series of shows on "Geek & Sundry" scaled to be able to make them all at the same time.
5) Day doesn't try to compete with shows that are already doing something well. She wants to make unique shows that no one else is doing. Again, finding a niche for a type of programming that is under-represented in all forms of media, finding the audience who would enjoy those series, and creating a community.
6) One of the big challenges that creators have is rising above all the noise. There are so many channels, so much social media, that it's like, in Day's words, "A cable box with 2 million channels." She says the next challenge for all these platforms is to make their interface more "useable." By that I'm assuming Day means, "being able to find what you want without a lot of hassle."
Day goes on to talk about how the risk is low when it comes to low-budget niche programming, and how great it is that you have complete control over the creative output when it comes to this type of entertainment. The higher the budget , the higher the risk. And who needs that when you're just having fun?