Seinfeld would ‘not have made series two’ today claims AOL’s video boss

The head of internet giant AOL’s video output has accused linear TV networks of “strangling the creative process” claiming a show like Seinfeld would not have made it to a second series today.

McCormack (right) and Spurlock during the SXSW session

McCormack (left) and Spurlock during the SXSW session

In an interview with film maker Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame, Dermot McCormack, president AOL video and studios, said creating content for online providers meant he was “no longer a slave to Nielsen (ratings)” to monetise content as he had “many different windows” to push a show out through.

“These days Seinfeld wouldn’t have made it to season two, the creative process is suffering,” he said. “We have different ways of monetising – we can cut it into two minute bits, or 90 minutes- we can let it find an audience.”

In a session looking at his new “hyper reality” TV show Connected, which will screen on AOL, Spurlock said it is the “best time in history to be a producer”.

The new show follows a disparate group of people who film their own lives, with Spurlock adding: “To create an authentic story with real people is what I think the promise of reality TV was – it wasn’t just people eating bugs.”

He said the move to over the top streaming services by viewers was democratising content and giving more content creators the chance to make different types of show, like Connected, but said the next step would be the “democratisation of marketing and curation” adding: “I know I’ll be able to go to here to watch these things I like, they live in one place for me.”

He said show producers needed to move away from the idea of producing content for a particular device as people use different means to watch it, saying when he saw a man watching the film Gladiator on his phone on a train “I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry”.

He also pointed to Oculus Rift and other virtual reality technology as the next wave of innovation for content, giving people the chance to immerse themselves in the stories.

McCormack admitted AOL’s does not have the money to make shows to rival Game of Thrones, but said there would be the chance to take content in a new direction with streaming platforms.

“Over the top is just an amazing opportunity – in 5 years every screen will be connected to internet and creatively we want to push the boundaries and take left turns where other people are taking right turns,” he said.

“Who says a TV show has to be 22 minutes, why not 15 minutes or eight minutes  or 90 minutes?”

On monetising the content he said he was “not just a slave to Nielsen” citing  “many different ways to get your product out there” such as social channels.

“If you have something great we can put it in front of an audience and if its good people will come back,” he added.

Alec Hayes in Austin

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