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Big Media Use Video Websites to Find Talent

Broadcasting & Cable reports that at a time when broadband penetration has never been higher and advertisers are demanding content on digital platforms, TV networks are rapidly launching broadband channels, and they are desperate for fresh voices to fill them. At the same time, the price of powerful video-editing software has dropped to below $50, giving wannabe TV producers across America the tools to craft their stuff.

What cable networks were for legions of frustrated creative writers and producers whose irreverent views weren’t suitable for broadcast TV in the 1980s and ’90s, broadband is to progressive new producers. The potential audience: 47 million U.S. homes that can download broadband video shows. Many of the most prolific voices in broadband -- established industry players and novices alike -- are hoping to gain enough exposure to end up on a TV screen.

"As we start to develop more of these, it’s our hope and goal to get linear-TV plays out of our short-form content," says Tim Healy, the MTV VP of production. Healy sets aside time early in the morning and late at night to scour user-submitted video sites and encourages his production staff to do the same during lunch. "Our goal is not just to make content for Overdrive and mobile phones," he says. "We want cross-platform hits."

Cable networks are most evolved in offering original broadband fare. Comedy Central, an MTV sister channel, is developing 20 series for broadband, with another 40 under consideration. NBC Universal created an entire digital studio last fall to cultivate broadband and mobile shows across the company and has staffed it with twenty-somethings who churn out cheeky short-form programs. Its broadcast network NBC just picked up a new TV pilot of failed WB series 'Nobody’s Watching' after the original gained significant traction on YouTube.

Several creators have already made the short leap to the big screen. MTV launched 'The Andy Milonakis Show' in 2005 after late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel spotted the baby-faced producer’s wacky online videos and brought them to the network. Milonakis, a former computer technician, gained notoriety after posting rough home videos online -- including one widely circulated song clip 'The Super Bowl Is Gay.' After a successful run on MTV, the show now runs on MTV2.

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