Online videos and the rebranding of Sony’s CSpot

Crackle arrived on the scene during the great online comedy video gold rush of 2007 in which many sites appeared but few managed to grab permanent hold on our collective consciousness. Remember This Just In (HBO/AOL) and Dot Comedy (NBC)? Of course you don’t, unless you worked for those sites or knew someone who did. Not your fault. A flood of online comedy videos have arrived, all vying for your short attention spans. When you’re looking for a funny video, or merely a distraction from work or study, where do you go? And if you’re hoping to attract those viewers, how do you go about it and whom do you have on your team to represent you? The calculated and sometimes mad dash to scoop up talent was on.  (CollegeHumor and The Onion already had built-in readerships they could turn into viewerships.)

The new sites that remain all rely on the comedic weight of their talent rosters.

My Damn Channel found crossover success in Harry Shearer’s Found Objects series that shows how big shots can seem rather small when the cameras continue to roll, and carved out a niche with series from David Wain and A.D. Miles. Wainy Days is up for a Webby Award, too.

Funny or Die went the celebrity route and made a big splash with Will Ferrell. Their continued use of celebrities keeps it in daily contention.

Super Deluxe (TBS) hoped that dedicating money and long-term series commitments to up-and-coming comedians would pay off. That big score hasn’t quite happened yet, though you can find many performers on the site who certainly deserve the exposure.

What was supposed to make Crackle stand out amid the competition was the backing of Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as "the hottest emerging
talent on the web and beyond
" (Where is this beyond? Is it the near the bed and the bath? Oh nose.) Except Crackle didn’t quite, well, pop. Snap? The Minisode Network did and does have its merits. Anyhow. Crackle went back to the online drawing board and returned in the past month with a slate of new series and a new channel to showcase them: CSpot. Mondays see Hot Hot Los Angeles (a Southern Californian soap spoof); Tuesdays, The Writers Room (featuring actual TV writers and a weekly conference call from Kevin Pollak discussing his not-so-actual show); Wednesdays, Gaytown (Owen Benjamin’s travails in a town ruled by gay people); Thursdays, the animated Roadents; Fridays,  Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show (spoofing Asian stereotypes). The Los Angeles Times liked what it saw, and reports that the series get to work with a $10,000 budget per episode. The series all have small viewerships so far, though they’re finding more success over on YouTube. There’s also channels for Penn Jillette and The Purple Onion. I’m not sure the CSpot is quite as unique as the LAT reporter found it to be, but there are jewels to be found in this rough.

Here is the most recent episode of Owen Benjamin’s Gaytown:

From Crackle: Gaytown: Episode 4

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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