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Hollywood Needs to Embrace the Web

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The world has always had a special place in its heart for US television. Shows like ABC's (DIS) Grey’s Anatomy, Fox's (NWS) House, and AMC's (AMCX) Mad Men have all had their share of success around the globe, while others, like FX's Sons of Anarchy, struggle to find a large audience.

That is, until it went online.

ProSiebenSat.1, Germany’s largest, privately funded TV company, employed a new strategy to build viewership on its site. The company used its YouTube (GOOG) clone MyVideo to exclusively stream some US TV shows. Audiences responded, and Sons of Anarchy recorded nearly 4.5 million views, according to GigaOm.

Hoping to continue the ball rolling, ProSiebenSat.1 debuted the Starz (LMCA) series Spartacus on MyVideo in March, which brought the site 13.5 million views. Encouraged by the high numbers, the company decided to air the show on TV, where it was successful as well.

The on-air presence drove even more viewers to MyVideo, in part because the site offered an option to view the show in English. MyVideo reported to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s TV blog that the English version brought in another 1.5 million viewers. That’s saying something in a country where almost every movie and TV show is dubbed on television. ProSiebenSat.1’s online-first strategy has worked so well that the company is aiming to premiere five to seven new shows on MyVideo per year going forward.

The trend has also worked in the US. Hulu has acquired exclusive rights for TV shows from the UK and elsewhere which wouldn’t normally connect with US audiences. Nevertheless, those series have found popularity with the site’s viewers. One show, BBC’s Misfits, was such a big hit on Hulu that it is now being adapted by Hollywood for US audiences.
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