Web Series – increasing in popularity? Where are the captions?
So far on this blog when discussing access to video content on the web I have focused on catch-up services provided by traditional linear TV broadcasters. But increasingly there is some content that is available on the web only, usually refered to as a web series.
A web series is a series of videos, generally in episodic form, released on the Internet or also by mobile or cellular phone, and part of the newly emerging medium called web television. A single instance of a web series program is called an episode or webisode.
Web Series shouldn’t be mistaken for being small-fry, it is an industry big enough to have its own awards called The Streamys. The number 1 subscribed web series on You Tube is currently Smoosh with over 7,000,000 subscribers! This kind of content is not subject to the same regulatory rules as web catch up services in any country so far as I am aware (readers please correct me by commenting on this post if I am wrong). Unfortunately much of this content is without captions or subtitles but there are some fantastic individuals working hard to advocate and educate producers of web series to encourage them to include it. Captioned Web TV is a fantastic blog that lists all web series it finds that includes captions. It also contains useful information for web producers to take steps in captioning their videos. If you know of any web series with captions that is not listed you can submit that information to the site.
In addition to web series created by individual producers, OTT platforms such as Amazon and Netflix are starting to produce their own exclusive shows. Netflix’s first produced show is a remake of the TV series House Of Cards. To my pleasant surprise the trailer which is already online has been captioned and so I hope the same will be true of the series itself:
In a similar vein Amazon Studios has greenlit several productions but have not yet completed production. And in the US Hulu has several exclusive series, the captioning of which seems to be a mixed bag:
It is not just the OTT companies, traditional Film & TV production companies also produce series exclusively for the web. One of the series I would very much like to watch but cannot because it is not captioned is from Crackle (run by Sony) called Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It’s success in bringing viewers to the site has meant that a second series is being produced, and according to paidContent, “2013 is the year of the web series second season”. What I’d like to see is “2013 – the year of captioned web series”. I’ll settle for 2014 if I have to. I’m not convinced changes will happen this quickly. For a start because of its very nature – anyone can upload a web series anywhere at anytime once they have made it, how to keep up with it all? Here’s a list that is fairly current of the many ways to watch web series. I don’t doubt this list could be out of date fairly quickly. But what if The Streamys gave an awards category for the most accessible content? I’d like to see producers whether individuals, OTT platforms, or web content from traditional production companies all competing for that as much as they are for subscribers/hits/views at the very least. Right now, a lot of us are missing out.