I was in Las Vegas this week and one of my primary goals there was to turn my visit into a blog post about web series… right? Being the entertainment capital of the world I unsurprisingly found many similarities between the city and the internet. Seriously…
1) To stand out from the crowd, you have to put lights on it:
Vegas is over flowing with all different types of entertainment, there is something to do in just about every square foot of space on the strip. Everything is lit up and flashing, architecture is elaborate, people are loud and in your face, all to get your attention.
Every new hotel and casino is built taller, brighter and more ornate than the last. Who can say if the quality of the leisure being had inside is any better than at any other casino – that isn’t the point. The point is to get you interested enough to find out.
How do web series stick out from the crowd? With all the web sites on the internet how does a web series grow their peacock feathers? For the most part many don’t really even try. Sure view counts on youtube can help or a name actor / creator and a big budget, but there is a ‘chicken / egg’ situation going on there.
One web series ‘One Warm Night’ recently had a huge premiere party (you can see the pictures I took at the event here) that’s certainly one way of doing it. Perhaps we need to start seeing more elaborate web presentations, or tie ins? Either way, a simple web page wont cut it.
2) What is the value of something freely available, anytime, anywhere?
Vegas, much like a lot of places, was hit hard by the recession. People just stopped coming. So now, more than ever, the entertainment in Vegas has to compete for the attention of those who are visiting. And with so many options it has become easy to get a lot of things for free.
Hotels give away rooms for free to get you into the casinos, shows give away tickets for free just to get people to show up to see them and talk about them – and visit the casinos. You walk around the city and you are assaulted with ‘free.’
So what is the value of something freely available, anytime, anywhere?
When something is offered free so often, the expectation of free is created; and the value of any item is the amount of money people are willing to pay for it. No matter the quality, if I know I can get a comparative good for free, any time anywhere I will not pay for it.
People create shows, and they ask nothing in return from their audience. They put them online, in HD, where they can be watched by anyone with an internet connection, any time they want – and who isn’t connected to the internet just about 24/7 these days?
It can get even worse. The more someone shoves ‘free’ in your face, the more skeptical customers can become. This goes into the next item.
3) Being simply “worth someone’s time” is not good enough:
Just because something is free it does not mean that there is no cost associated with it. Everything you do, or buy comes with the opportunity cost of the possibility of doing something else. People need to believe you are worth their time.
I had some vouchers for free drinks that I never cashed. I kept thinking I would just go use them tomorrow. Oops. There was always something else more valuable to me.
The internet is about the only thing more gluttonous than Vegas. With so much available to do it is difficult to rise to the top of someone’s personal ‘to-do’ list for any given moment – especially when the public has the perception that there is always tomorrow.
A lot of people may have heard of your web series, maybe even considered watching it but when it is always available it is easy to decide to watch it ‘tomorrow.’ People can only do about one thing at a time, generally, and there are only 24 hours in the day. Do not underestimate the opportunity cost of someone’s time.
4) Creating a gluttonous culture of spending is working out pretty well for them:
So, again, what is the value of an object that is given away freely, anytime, anywhere?
Vegas may give a lot of things away for free but many others are priced with the idea that people came to Vegas to spend money. The strip is lined with malls, bars, gift shops and over priced restaurants – the casinos make donating your money to them as easy as the press of a button.
In these areas there is an expectation of spending – excessively.
I know it flies in the face of the spirit of the internet, but perhaps it is time to stop giving away products to everyone who will listen? Perhaps it makes more sense to have the audience come to us? Maybe we should stop saying ‘please’ and start figuring out how to get our audience to ask us that question. As a creator you want everyone to have the chance to watch your product, but if that product impresses a lack value, people simply will not.