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The future of television?

Is a new TV series developed especially for the iPad a noble experiment doomed to fail or the latest example of mobile content power?

Apple clearly believes the future is mobile. In the last couple of days it has unveiled, to much excitement, its new mobile operating software (featuring a mapping system that directly challenges Google Maps), a revamped Siri for the iPad and a new MacBook Pro.

Which is all very interesting of you like that sort of thing, but what sort of content will be seeing on and through these new whizz-bang developments? Well, a mini-series developed especially for the iPad could be a start…

Called Watch with Mother, the Sydney-filmed, MA-rated, six-part show will only be available via app and iTunes. The show itself has been called ‘a bizarre blend of sketch comedy and horror’, but of greater interest is the chosen method of distribution.

The producers are gambling that direct-to-the-public sales will allow them to bypass the TV networks. They reportedly need around 200,000 episode sales (at $1.49 each, or $8.99 for the set) for it to have been worthwhile. It’s a figure that is no means guaranteed.

As executive producer Michael Ritchie told The Sydney Morning Herald: ‘I don’t know any shows that have gone out on the app as their principal means of distribution. Apps to date have been a subsidiary element of shows, where you can access more information or a game or other assets of a show, but in our case we’re making it front and centre. And frankly, I think there isn’t a better platform for it.’

‘If we’re lucky, the take-up rate could be three per cent of those who see the trailer. That means we need to get about eight million to 10 million views of the trailer.’

Fortune favours the bold

The trailer is due to be released this week and the hope is that social media will play its part in spreading the word.

It has to be said, though, the early signs are not encouraging. The Watch with Mother Facebook page has only 476 likes, while the 10-part teasers (like this one, below) on its YouTube channel have received less than 3000 views in total.

Still, at least Michael Ritchie and co are trying something new rather than simply rehashing what is already out there. History shows us that advances are made in every field as a result of people willing to take a risk.

Whether this particular risk pays off remains to be seen, but Ritchie is clearly under no illusions about the size of the task ahead: ‘This is a brave new world, and anyone who says they know what they’re doing is full of shit. I think people will be waiting to see if this is going to work.’

Which makes the attempt by the Watch with Mother team all the more admirable.


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