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Can the Net Save Failed TV Pilots?

Can the Net Save Failed TV Pilots?

Today, Variety reports that iTunes was able to secure a deal to sell TV episodes from Warner Bros. Television (who had been holding out), with popular sitcom Friends among the first offerings. Reportedly, you’ll be able to download the entire first season of 24 episodes, for just $27.99. But, also making the news is WB TV’s decision to include Aquaman as an iTunes offering. Now, this has nothing to do with Vinnie Chase , but it’s the pilot produced for, and then dropped by, the Fall 2006 schedule of “new” network, The CW. Perhaps, WB TV sees a possible opportunity to test the waters with a Web audience (arguably the same demographic that would tune in to an Aquaman TV show), and reverse its decision?

This follows along the lines of what NBC did when a failed pilot, Nobody’s Watching, was uploaded to YouTube and became a (relative) hit. NBC went ahead and picked up the orphaned pilot (which was destined for The WB/CW, but co-produced by NBC). Folks are curious to see what can be made of a TV show that gets a respectable 500,000 online viewers, when about 30 times that amount is needed for the boob tube to consider it a modest success. Additionally, who’s to say if the Nobody’s Watching situation was truly a fluke, given that NBC and YouTube announced a strategic marketing partnership a while back?

Just five years ago, a big sensation surrounded the world of failed pilots. There were TV programs dedicated to airing these “forgotten” episodes, and even a live stage show in L.A. that hosted screenings of pilots. So, like many avenues of entertainment, is this where the Internet and streaming video can come in and (sort of) save the day? There’s obviously a massive backlog of failed pilots, aborted TV seasons, and more. Will these find their way on the Web, for a savvy cult audience that may actually wanna buy them? One to three episodes a DVD doesn’t make (unless you’re Comedy Central milking Chappelle’s Show), so portals like iTunes make a lot of sense. All I have to say is, I’ll be first in line once a top-quality version of Heat Vision and Jack comes online.

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