I know I’ve already lit into Lloyd Braun, Yahoo’s Hollywood guy, but it’s irresistible.
Today’s Journal carried news of his latest plot to bring TV-style hit shows to the Web — a revival of the long-forgotten, ill-starred reality show “The Runner.”
Braun’s aim, the Journal reports, is “For Yahoo to create the first mass-market Internet hit, which would do for the medium what ‘The Sopranos’ did for pay cable or Milton Berle did in the early days of broadcast TV.”
Now, this is not a direct quote from Braun. Maybe he’s not as dumb as the Journal summary implies.
That aside, well, Braun needs to be brought up to speed about the Web. And wait, he’s in luck! All he needs to do is hop on his private plane and fly up to Sunnyvale and sit down with two guys named Jerry Yang and Dave Filo. They can tell him a lot about what a “mass-market Internet hit” really is. Yang and Filo created the very first one; it was even a reality show of a sort — just a little directory of Web sites that evolved into the juggernaut we now know as Yahoo.
Some other Internet hits Braun could study: Amazon. EBay. Napster. Linux, Apache and open source. You fill in the rest.
Sure, these are not “shows” at all — they’re complex hybrids of businesses, services and communities in which people connect and, in a sense, perform for one another.
That is what a “hit” on the Web looks like. Few of us could see that a decade ago. To not see it today is just plain blind. Braun’s quest for a mass-market “hit show” on the Web displays a complete misapprehension of its nature.
I get this picture of a TV executive in the early ’50s. Someone who worked in the movies until this new thing came along. He sits, fretting, in his office. He knows exactly what he’s looking for — that first breakthrough TV show, one so compelling, so overwhelmingly great that people would want to see it in a movie theater!
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