Online Entertainment to Take a Crack at Online-Only Programming

Sony Pictures Entertainment’s online video network,, has announced its upcoming season of online programming, which will start airing next month., Crackle’s shows are primarily made for distribution exclusively over the Web, not regular TV.

Crackle’s claim to fame is short, original episodes produced and filmed with the same basic high-quality production values that go into producing network or cable television. In other words, Crackle is not about blurry and poorly lit webisodes filmed in some dude’s basement.

Regularly Scheduled Programming

The new 13-week season consists of a mixture of new shows as well as the return of several sophomore series, Crackle said. Highlights of the new season include “Anytime With Bob Kushell,” an online talk show hosted by the Emmy-nominated television writer and producer, which features guests including Jennifer Esposito, Neil Patrick Harris, John Stamos and Christina Applegate.

Crackle will also air new seasons of “The Groundlings,” “Owen Benjamin Presents” and four brand-new episodes of “The Jace Hall Show.” In addition, Crackle announced that “Married … with Children” star David Faustino’s new comedy series “Star-ving” will premiere on Friday, January 16, 2009.

Most of the weekly episodes run just a few minutes long and will air on the same day weekly over the course of the 13-week season. Most Web-produced mini “TV” shows tend to be posted whenever they happen to be completed rather than as a cohesive, regular season or schedule.

Never Heard of It?

While many watchers may not have heard of or the shows it produces, Reuters reported that saw 2.4 million visitors in the month of October. In June, Crackle reported that “The Jace Hall Show” snagged 500,000 visitors in the first 48 hours of its launch, which grew to 1 million views of the first two episodes. That program features behind-the-scenes footage from game developers and interviews in which actors, musicians and athletes discuss their lives in context of the entertainment convergence world.

Crackle has said it’s looking to attract advertisers and support the site as a business, but might there be other motivations for parental owner Sony Pictures Entertainment?

“I think they want to experiment with independent producers and actors and see how they play out, and if they do well they want to take them to the next level,” Phil Leigh, principal analyst for Inside Digital Media, told TechNewsWorld.

“In other words, this is the farm team for the majors — they might find good script writers, directors, actors and shows,” he added.

TV and movies, Leigh also noted, are increasingly moving toward the Internet, and on the PC side, the average video length is increasing. On mobile platforms, however, length remains more of a challenge. isn’t the exclusive delivery site for Crackle’s content. Watchers can also find it on YouTube, Hulu, MySpace, Adobe Media Player, AOL, Verizon Wireless’ Vcast Video service, AT&T, Sprint TV, and direct to Sony Bravia TVs via the Bravia Internet Video Link.

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