You may have heard about Alphabird's acquisition of Placevine back in May. Since Alphabird is all about video engagement and Placevine is all about connecting brands with the right video producers... it was a bit of a natural fit. One of the more interesting things that has come from that acquisition is actually related to a growing segment of online video: web series. Alphabird has created and launched Placevine Studios--the first of its kind, to my knowledge--a website for reviews of web series and YouTube channels.
I recently had a chance to interview Chase Norlin, Alphabird's CEO, on the vision they have for Placevine Studios:
Where did the idea for Placevine Studios come from? How did it come about?
Really it's an offshoot of our core Alphabird business that is focused on the distribution of web series and branded entertainment. Through the acquisition of Placevine it made sense to expand the scope of our offering and also there's really no centralized place to read high quality web series reviews (and Youtube channel reviews). Placevine Studios is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this growing medium that seems to have a lack of professional reviews.
Talk about the content: how many reviews do you have up, and how quickly do you plan to ramp that up?
We write four to five reviews per day and we are actively looking to bring more writers on board.
What kind of series will Placevine Studios review? Are there content types out there that the average viewer might consider "web series" but that don't fall under the umbrella of what you're trying to do?
As a rule, we generally tend to stay away from profiling short films and "one off' styled clips as far as web series content is concerned. We'd rather review an ongoing web series as it gives us an opportunity to track its development from a production value standpoint. Since the web series is still a relatively new medium, it's exciting to see how much the content can mature from a production standpoint, and who's showing signs of thinking outside the proverbial box and willing to push the parameters to a new and never before seen level visually, storyline, and performance wise.
A web series reviews site suggests you have strong positive feelings about the future of the format? Where do you see web series currently, and in five years?
As the medium stands now, it seems as though it's still in a heady, exploratory stage. It has a great "anything goes" vibe that's infectious. One of the most appealing aspects about web series content is that it offers a much more distinctive range of subject matter, thereby offering the viewer a more tailored viewing experience that the networks and cable channels just can't offer. As far as the future goes, all one has to do is look at how all of the major electronics companies are now scrambling to get Internet ready TV's into the consumer's hands to see where the web series format is heading. The web series format is changing in scope from a simple at the work desk distraction to a bonafide viewing choice. The Internet is the second coming of cable TV, which is to say that the cable and broadcast nets will have to get in where they fit in with regards to the crowded viewing landscape down the road.
Even as web series are growing in popularity, the television networks are shying away from them. Any thoughts on why that might be?
It seems that the nets are employing their standard "wait and see" approach to the content. For all practical purposes, they may see the wide open aspect of web series production as something that's not within their ability to regulate, so they're waiting at the "finish line" as it were, to see which producers and shows are the most attractive to the demos they're targeting. Right now the networks are quietly funding their forays into the genre. The challenge they're faced with however is to move from a "pair the content down for wide audience" way of thought to embracing the aspect that since the Internet offers an open canvas for an incredibly wide range of digital content choices for the viewership, how will they be best be able to adapt to providing a diversified scope of programming options that meet the expectations of the atypical web show watcher while still keeping with their commitment to higher production values and staying within their budget guidelines. Obviously they'll most likely implement some sort of case by case approach to each show they produce to address the production versus budget issue, but as it stands, the nets are the big fish in a small pond who're about to be moved into the ocean.
What if someone wants to write web series reviews for you, are you looking for more writers?
Absolutely. As our role at Placevine Studios as a thought leader in this industry expands, so to will our needs expand for talented content creators in order to keep pace with the enormous amount of subject matter that's waiting to get a nod. We're always on the lookout for engaged writers who demonstrate an avid interest in and knowledge of branded entertainment, web series, and YouTube channel content.
Our thanks to Chase Norlin for taking the time to talk with us about web series, the need for quality reviews, and how Placevine Studios hopes to fill that need.