Ever since computers first gained the ability to play videos, the death of traditional television as we know it has been preordained. Laptops and tablets are conveniently, becoming better televisions than T.V.’s ever could, despite the size of their screens. While streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu have already been showcasing television episodes after their release on the slightly-bigger-screen, a new trend is starting to encircle the T.V. world: professional content produced exclusively for the Internet.
Netflix, already a vast repository of television and film, has recently begun sponsoring the creation of original content to be aired exclusively on their website. Shows such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black have received wide critical acclaim and fan enthusiasm, often more so than comparable shows airing on a traditional television channels. Netflix has also been hugely innovative in bringing back cancelled shows like Arrested Development and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Community, another revived show, might have finally found its home online. While the first five seasons aired on NBC, gathering a rabid fan following and gaining nearly universal critical acclaim, it never achieved high enough ratings to justify its airtime and constantly faced the threat of premature cancellation. Community was resurrected not by the established Netflix or Hulu, but instead by Yahoo!, a newcomer in the field of online television. Season six of Community is currently airing on Yahoo! Screen, garnering a fairly enthusiastic response with a Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 87%.
“The smaller budget compared to television is becoming clear,” said MFS senior David Golden. “Thankfully there’s still some flashes of Community brilliance.”
“I think it’s great that shows can get second chances online, but I also think there tend to be pitfalls. Sometimes shows fail to take advantage of their new medium. For example, while no TV schedule episode can vary by length, online episodes have no real time restraint.”
Clearly, this new method of making and viewing television is still in its infancy, and shows have only begun to adjust. A particularly interesting example is Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra, which aired on Nickelodeon exclusively for its first two seasons before flip-flopping back and forth between television and online releases on Hulu and the Nickelodeon website for its last two seasons.
While Yahoo! Screen and similar services absolutely have the potential to bring back beloved shows to the joy of their fans, only time will tell if other companies will be able to replicate Netflix’s success with original content.