I recently came across the TV show Quarterlife, which NBC have just started airing in America. I'd originally been watching low quality copies on YouTube (uploaded by quarterlife), but I discovered that the main website has high quality versions, versions that play in widescreen (rather than YouTube's stupid letterbox), versions that you can happily watch without thinking "I'm streaming something over the internet". Is this the future of TV? Pick an episode to watch in your own time, watch it immediately without any stuttering, in high quality. It's free, it's legal, it's an opportunity for people to create new TV shows and let the world decide if they like it. And perhaps small shows, just like Quarterlife, will get picked up by someone bigger and the rest of the world get to enjoy something special. Much like Radiohead's recent approach to selling music (and the subsequent copycats), it sometimes takes a big risk to change the way things are done, to shake up the traditional business model that has made fortunes for networks in the past, but thanks to things like Felicia Day's "The Guild" (which I still haven't watched yet) and shows like "Quarterlife" (and all the ventures before them, such as Lonelygirl15
, which I also haven't watched), perhaps this generation can bypass the big networks that cancel popular shows at a whim (seriously, 1-4 episodes and you cancel it, and then wonder why no one ever bothers watching your new shows?). Perhaps by embracing - rather than fighting - the internet, everyone will gain. The downside? Bandwidth costs money, going it alone will be expensive, and at some point the Web 2.0 ventures will begin to fail (like the dot com revolution before it) and sites will shut down (did I read that DivX Studios has just closed down?) and all we'll be left with is crappy letterboxed YouTube thanks to the billions of dollars that Google can sink into it. You think Microsoft have a monopoly? Think again. Or perhaps the community will start to fund their own site that hosts such content. I don't mean some kind of Youtube clone, with user generated content that either lasts 2 minutes or is a broken up version of a copyrighted TV show; I mean a site where users upload high quality episodes that are at least 20 minutes long, and suitable to get picked up and broadcasted by traditional television networks.
The show initially launched on MyspaceTV.com and quarterlife.com in November 2007 (a decade after one of my past websites was officially launched). The series includes 36 eight minute webisodes, with two new episodes airing each week. The show is also available on other sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Imeem, as well as NBC.com. Quarterlife tells the ongoing stories of six creative people in their twenties. The cast are great, many of them are recognisable from shows such as Lost, Medium, Greek and Entourage. Enjoy: Quarterlife