Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where Are The Viewers?

Right, I have a favour to ask. You may or may not be aware of an online-only sitcom called Where Are The Joneses?, in which a woman finds out she has 27 long-lost siblings and goes to find them all.

(I say sitcom, it's actually an incredibly over-engineered advert for Ford, who either fancy themselves as the future of television (shudder), or don't mind forking out millions for someone else to indulge their vision of the future of television, but that's beside the point.)

What I want to know is: have you ever watched it? Do you know anyone who has? Have you even heard of it? I'm trying to establish if it has any kind of actual fan following outside of the people who created it (mainly Steve Coogan's production company Baby Cow) and the people who wish they'd created it (mainly viral marketing people at impossibly hip digital agencies).

NB it's actually not too bad - it's nicely underplayed and has quite a lot of subtle jokes in it - but you have to sit through 14 or 15 two-minute Ford ads episodes before its humour starts to become apparent. And you can submit your own script ideas and stuff via the wiki, because it's achingly cutting edge and interactive and that.

Although frankly, if two-minute corporate-branded YouTube episodes of 'not too bad' comedy are the future of television, I think I might retreat to a cave for the rest of my days.

20 comments:

Lia said...

Have no idea what you are writing about. Does that help you?

Now I am going to have to go find these clips on youtube. Are you part of the viral campaign?

Dave said...

I have never heard of it, seen it, or know anyone who has. Mind you in north Norfolk we can only get the four basic terrestrial channels, so if it's on one of those digital channels that you fancy London types have, then that's no wonder.

patroclus said...

lia: That's very helpful, thanks. I'm not connected with it in any way - I'm just writing an article about it.

Dave: It isn't on television, it's on the internet. The internet is the future of television, you see. Why watch something on a massive luxury flat-screen HDTV from the comfort of your sofa, when you can watch it on a tiny laptop screen, or better still, your mobile phone? Maybe Ford could put their next series of adverts on the head of a pin and force us to squint at them out of one eye.

*stops before cello beats her up again*

Smat said...

I have never heard of it either, although that's probably because I'm not the target audience. I've yet to find out what I'm the target audience for though TV-wise. Any ideas?

Dave said...

Watching TV on your computer? But it will surely be a bit dull, for the PCW8512 only does two shades of green (dark and light, surprisingly) - or has Mr Sugar thought up a clever new wheeze for them?

Marsha Klein said...

I've never heard of it either and neither, as far as I'm aware, have my kids, who spend a sizeable chunk of each day trawling the internet (that sounds bad, doesn't it?!)

patroclus said...

I have located one fan now, on Facebook.

Part of me wants to believe that the internet is the new television, because I love the internet more than life itself, and I believe it to be capable of *anything*. But the sensible part of me is telling me that watching TV on a laptop - or, god forbid, on a mobile phone - is no substitute for watching it on the actual telly.

Although the internet is very good for - ahem - 'previews' of new American TV shows.

GreatSheElephant said...

I didn't think I'd heard of it until you mentioned the bit about Steve Coogan and being able to submit script contributions. Clearly that only registered because I'm a writer and probably thought for a second or two about participating. But I had absolutely no idea what it was or that it was connected to Ford. Personally, I use the Internet to get away from television.

patroclus said...

You still can participate, I think, GSE, although it's nearing its end. I'm actually surprised that more people haven't latched on to it, given the number of aspiring comedy writers in the world and the fact that it gives them a direct line into a proper TV production company.

I had a dream last night that I was watching Facebook on television. If that's a premonition, I'm off to the cave right now.

GreatSheElephant said...

I dunno. It's kind of difficult to write for a medium you disdain. I don't want the Internet to be another channel for television.

cello said...

Yes, I've heard of it and seen it. And I even know the man who came up with the 'concept'. It's OK as TV content goes, I guess, but is it better than a cracking 30" ad eg Heineken lobster?

Can I just give you my contribution to the TV/internet debate.

TV is the content (that's what people mean by it, as researched by us).
Broadcasting/internet/mobile are the different delivery technologies, and you could even say that DVD is another.
TV sets, PC screens, mobile phones, PDAs, iPods etc etc are the hardware on which you watch TV.

So you can watch TV via the internet on your TV set(eg BT
Vision, Virgin broadband) or on your PC screen (4OD, Joost, itv.com) And Apple TV or a Slingbox can transfer it from your PC to a TV set screen. Some of those use the web, and others (Joost and IPTV) don't.

Going forward it's important to distinguish between those 3 components: content, platform and device.

So I'm with Vint Cerf on this; TV is totally compatible with the internet because one is a technology and the other is creative content. The internet is one of the futures of TV content, but broadcasting will remain the most efficient way to get the same content to millions of people at the same time. That must be true because James Murdoch said so.

Apologies for going on a bit.

patroclus said...

This may be the case, but I can only watch Kate Modern and Where Are The Joneses on my laptop, not on my TV set. Unless I'm missing something?

Anyway it seems that very few episodes of WATJ have got more than 1,000 views on YouTube, but Kate Modern seems to be doing quite nicely. cello, any views on why that might be? I'm assuming it's because KM is fairly well embedded among its own target audience on Bebo, and also because it's a drama, not a comedy. And also possibly because WATJ is quite conspicuously sponsored by Ford, while KM is subtler about its advertisers.

patroclus said...

Doh - you actually answered my first question with the Apple TV/Slingbox thing.

cello said...

You've answered your own question. Bebo is a 'destination website' and aspires to be a 'destination aggregator'. (apologies for wankery)

Not all Tv content will be available on all platforms; indeed exclusive content is the main way of selling the different platforms (eg Sky and Premiership and Lost.
However I am fairly confidntthat some broadcast channel will acquire KateModern at some point, thereby increasing the traffic to Bebo in a brilliantly complementary way. See also Skins and MySpace...

james henry said...

This is all very well, but how much money will I get when Green Wing or Bob the Builder goes out on Interwebvisiondownload?

Nuppence, that's how much.

cello said...

Yup, you're fucked, James.

james henry said...

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

/crappy prequel Darth Vader


This is what the possible writers' strike in the States is all about. Problem is, as most writers these days are hired guns, brought in to develop someone else's (and in the UK it's often a non-writing producer's) idea, you don't have much of a leg to stand on.

patroclus said...

cello: you should know that I fell asleep last night muttering 'content...platform...devices' to myself, and woke up repeating the same mantra. I hope the downstairs neighbour didn't hear.

james henry said...

He's heard worse.

patroclus said...

Yes, but fortunately he thought it was carpet fitters.