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The Secrets of Their Success

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The meek may inherit the Earth, but the geeks certainly seem to be inheriting the internet. Today’s content creators are an eclectic bunch of sci-fi enthusiasts, video game lovers, pop culture devotees, and even Photoshop experts who, despite interests that some may deem "uncool," are turning the web into the place to be for original programming.

From the daily prime time television recaps of Primetime in No Time to the postapocalyptic future of After Judgment and the hilarious yet helpful tutorials of You Suck at Photoshop, the web offers something for just about anybody, and audiences are beginning to catch on. Primetime in No Time pulls in about 2 million viewers per episode and has reached as many as 9 million in 1 day. Meanwhile, The Legend of Neil, a parody of the classic video game The Legend of Zelda, went from zero to 30,000 views in 1 day after gaming websites helped the pilot episode go viral.

So how do they do it? In this article, six of the web’s top content producers take a crack at that question.

Corey Moss: Entertainment Aficionado
Ever since high school, Corey Moss knew that the entertainment industry was the field for him. He got his start writing CD reviews and other entertainment pieces for his high school and college newspapers before graduating to a position at MTV News. Now, Moss serves as the executive producer for Yahoo! Originals and was instrumental in the creation of Primetime in No Time, which brings viewers up-to-speed each day on American Idol, The Bachelor, and other shows they may have missed the night before.

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Figure 1.Corey Moss (left), executive producer of Yahoo! Originals, with Matt Grant of The Bachelor: London Calling. Moss was instrumental in the creation of Primetime in No Time, which offers daily episode recaps for shows that fans may have missed the night before.

"I sort of feel like I’m working in television in the ’50s," Moss says. "It’s just so new, and we’re the generation that’s working in web video right now. We’re writing the rules for this, and I think that’s the most exciting part of it for me."

Primetime in No Time, which launched in March 2008, has been a success for Yahoo!, filling a practical need for its audience members while hooking them with comedic commentary from host Frank Nicotero. Moss says he decided to pursue this light-hearted style because comedy "plays best on the internet."

"It’s easily digestible, and it’s easy to bookmark and come to every day if you know you’re going to get a bit of a laugh," he says.

According to Moss, it took some time to perfect the show’s tone and pacing, but it finally hit its stride toward the end of 2008. He says it is important for web series to avoid burying their lead and to put their best content at the beginning of each episode while maintaining a quick, but not too quick, pace throughout.

"It’s so much easier to stop watching something on the web even than it is watching something on TV," Moss says. "I mean, people talk about how easy it is to click the channel or turn off the TV, but on the web, it’s probably the most challenging thing." However, the vast majority (90%) of those who begin watching an episode of Primetime in No Time end up watching the entire video, he says.

The show is monetized through a sponsorship deal with Verizon Wireless in which the Verizon logo is featured on the show’s bumper, a 15-second Verizon ad is shown after each episode, and other Verizon ads are displayed on the show’s website. This site is currently the only place the show can be watched, but Moss says he wouldn’t be opposed to syndicating the show now that it is successful.

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