There is an op-ed piece on NPR entitled Old TV Is New Again, and Shorter discussing Sony’s release of so-called minisodes. These TV classics, such as Who’s the Boss?, Charlie’s Angles, and The Facts of Life, will be trimmed to run 3-5 minutes, hence the name. Sony plans to distribute through MySpace, hopefully latching onto their viral userbase and targeting a broad audience, the younger of whom have likely never seen these shows.
NPR’s commentator on the piece, Andrew Wallenstein, thinks the idea destroys the integrity of the original shows, killing character development, removing plot, etc… His idea: if you can’t see the episode in full, you are missing something, so you shouldn’t view it at all.
I disagree with the largely nostalgic viewpoint and see this as win-win. To me, this is Sony experimenting with a move to bring mainstream media online and using legacy content (read: cheap, paid for) to do it. What the above argument fails to notice is the context of the medium minisodes are viewed.
The web is a harsh place for content providers. Users have short attention spans and only give partial focus to the content. The clear message is that adaptation is a must and Sony is clearly heeding the call. If companies want their content to spread virally, they must deliver media catered to the users’ short attention span.
Easily consumable videos have propelled short clips toward ubiquity. Examples of a successful move from 30 minute episodes are shows like Prom Queen (originally planned to run 80 episodes, Prom Queen will be returning in August after a cliffhanger ending left loyal viewers wanting more) and the lonelygirl15 craze.