Made-for-Web production has become a very difficult business in the past year. So it's perhaps no surprise that after making a big splash in the space with "Jackass 2.5" in late 2007, Paramount Digital Entertainment has been quiet on the Web front.
But today comes news it's making a second try, working with French production company Gaumont on "Section 8." This one won't be streamed or sold online as a full movie, like "Jackass." Instead, Paramount plans to stream six-to-nine minute episodes on the Web and then collect the whole thing into a DVD and even a theatrical feature.
The primary factor holding back original online video hasn't been a glut of product, as many might have expected a year or two ago, but monetization problems. Digital download numbers remain paltry compared to DVD sales and advertising money isn't yet close to what can be made from the same content on TV.
Paramount's solution is apparently to go back to that oldest of funding methods: product integration and advance overseas sales. The studio is working with Endemol to handle both, which is why the project was unveiled now, going into the MIP TV conference in Cannes.
What exactly is "Section Eight?" Paramount isn't telling. It won't even say yet who's writing and producing. All we know is that it's an "interactive short-form serial thriller" that will debut this fall, with an exclusive window on MySpace before hitting other platforms like Hulu and iTunes. And viewers will actually get to vote on the end of the series (Another old school throwback -- I remember doing with a 900 number for an "A-Team" episode as a kid in the '80s).