Does the 'Web' in 'Web Series' Keep the Mainstream at Bay?


Interesting question posed on Twitter yesterday by What’s Trending host Shira Lazar:

Lets just stop calling online shows “web series”- instead go with “original series” on x platform - thoughts?

I found after Tweeting an intial response, I had more to say so here goes:

Short answer: AGREED! Long answer: Whenever possible, I avoid the term ‘web series.’ Sometimes a client will insist upon qualifying whatever we’re producing as such (typically a scripted, longer-form series) and I do my best to convince them we’re better off going with ‘original series’ and here’s why: The average media consumer judges their entertainment by the platform it’s released on. They just do. I’ve always believed one of the more obvious roadblocks online programming faces in achieving mainstream awareness (and mainstream money) lies with how the mainstream perceives the web itself.

I recently asked my 64 years-young mother to email the Hulu link to the trailer for a show I was working on to 10 of her friends of similar age and introduce it as an “original series.” All 10 watched and responded favorably. Then I asked her to send the exact same link to 10 other friends of similar age, but call it a “web series.” This time, 4 people claimed “the link doesn’t work;” 2 said the “video won’t play;” 1 asked “what channel is this on?;” 1 asked “How do I find this so I know when to watch? Only 2 out of the second 10 watched the trailer without any questions or issues.

Not exactly a scientific study but it made me wonder even more if placing the word “web” in front of “series” or “show,” is hurting our cause at raising the broader awareness we need to grow? Send a link promising a “original series,” it gets opened with no problem; send the same link but call it a “web series” and suddenly the same content becomes confusing and inaccessible. Just something to think about.