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On Web TV, Someone's Always Watching

The title of the show Nobody's Watching is not quite apt: More than one million people have viewed its pilot on YouTube.

Nobody's Watching is a sort of meta-sitcom, following two guys who get the chance to back up their claim that they could create a better sitcom than the networks have been.

The show has had a rocky trajectory that landed it on a new frontier of television: the Internet. Its pilot was picked up by the WB network, which ultimately decided not to air it.

But NBC saw potential in the fan base that emerged when episodes were leaked online. It decided to back production, not for broadcast, but for YouTube.

Beth Comstock, president of integrated media at NBC Universal, says, "We've spent a lot of time figuring out, how do we extend [the viewer experience] on to the Internet." In other words, how does a network combine viewers and Internet users to create an audience of, as we'll call them, viewsers?

The one-hour show Heroes is another example of how NBC is turning to the Web to attract eyeballs. The network's site for the show features an online companion novel.

NBC.com is reaching 10 million unique users each month, and is an integral part of the company's strategy. "That's the world we're planning for, is a world where it all converges," Comstock says.

So here's another best idea in television: Sow hundreds of seeds online and try to grow some real television show. Get the energy, get the intensity and believe you will get the audience.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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