The Power of Fandom and Web Series

This summer I got Netflix for the sole purpose of watching the exclusive Netflix release of season 4 of Arrested DevelopmentThough the re-release of the series seemed to lack some of the magic of the previous seasons, I was still amazed and excited by the fact that the show was back! Even more shocking, it was because of the fans petitioning and persistent pestering that revived this series. Now this has happened before with shows like Family Guy and Futurama; however it was the main networks that brought these shows back. The fact that Netflix brought back a series and then proceeded to make their own successful web original series with a substantial fan base seemed revolutionary!

But was this “breakthrough” in the distribution of television as great and new as perceived? Televisual.com talks on how the release of Arrested Development on Netflix made popular the idea of how influential fans can be in the making of a project, but it is also mentioned on how many web series have been produced and supported by fans through campaigns like Kickstarter; and some of these fan produced series have gained more popularity than some network shows. As these web series gain a following, advertisers take notice of these series allowing the series to maintain production. There are web series like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (an Emmy winner…which is pretty awesome) and The Guild on Youtube with multiple views, whose fans allow for the production of new series by the same producers. This fan support, as the author of the Televisual.com article mentions, has created “innovation” in the way television is distributed and seen. The relationship between television and the fans becomes more intimate as the fans feel like they have a say in what happens to their favorite show or series that they believe in. They are willing to give a voice and even money to these projects in order to see them succeed. This fandom for web series, indie television, and cancelled television is not so new as thought, but because main distributors stick to main networks for wider distribution and money, the delve into the web and indie television by a main, popular media head (Netflix) becomes a fascinating development as it creates the possibility that indie shows can get the opportunity to be seen by a wider audience . 

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