Web Originals TV Shows

About Web Originals

When the web was young, the idea of original television programs produced exclusively for viewing via the internet was novel. In the 1990s, video streaming was a new technology, and bandwidth was not easy to come by, a situation that made web-only television a challenging prospect at best. That didn't stop producers from creating original web series, however, and 20 years later, media commentators are nearly universal in predicting that web-exclusive content will play a major role in the future of television.

The very first web-only series were produced in the mid-90s, when independent producers and web publishers began making short films for distribution entirely via the web. These early series were available either directly from the producers, web sites, on video sites like YouTube, or both. Some of these series gained a substantial following, but the DIY nature of web production largely kept them away from the mainstream spotlight.

Eventually, the relatively low cost and easy distribution of web series began to draw the attention of big-name mainstream producers. Series like Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, which was written and directed by Avengers director Joss Whedon and starred Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, brought big-budget credibility to web-exclusive programming.

By the second decade of the 21st century, web series from independent producers were proliferating, and mainstream producers had acknowledged the advantages of web-exclusive programming. Major content providers began to develop and produce mainstream series for distribution only via the internet. High-profile, big-budget series were produced by Netflix and Hulu, and for the first time, web-only series were produced and promoted with budgets on a par with traditional broadcast television series.

About This Genre
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