CollegeHumor is launching three new Fall shows this week, all of which have a defined run and the potential to be picked up for another “season” if they do well. The shows will debut new episodes at the same time and day each week, giving fans the opportunity to check in at the designated time for their favorites.
The first show to debut is Full Benefits, a series about an awkward office romance. Sarah Schneider, who writes and co-stars with David Young in the show, sees it as a chance to expand from what CH is already doing. “Not only does it give us writers a chance to write serialized sketches, but experiment with story arc and character more than ever before,” she told me. “For instance, the first ‘season’ of Full Benefits is 5 episodes, so David and I were able to write a plot that extends over all five episodes, which is very different from the one-off style of CH Originals or Hardly Working.”
While CollegeHumor already has two popular long-running web series in Jake and Amir and Hardly Working, this push towards more series is a definite shift for the site. “The whole point here is to stop thinking of CollegeHumor as a comedy show and more as a comedy network,” said President of Original Content Sam Reich. “These three series are only the beginning. We expect to launch three more by the end of the year.”
The other series starting this week are Very Mary-Kate, a show about Mary-Kate Olson by Elaine Carroll that’s already gained a sizable following from earlier episodes she produced herself, and Hello My Name Is, a show in which CH actor and director Josh Reuben creates a new character based on the makeup and costume he’s placed into.
CollegeHumor will continue to produce the one-off sketch videos it’s become known for, but to expand to series on a TV-like schedule makes sense for them. Creating characters that viewers connect with over time and are excited to revisit has clearly worked well for TV for years, and having popular recurring series to pitch to advertisers will almost certainly help pay for riskier one-offs that may or may not get the traffic to pay for themselves.
And as series become popular and gain followings, the line between web content and TV content will blur even further. After all, whether you’re waiting for 30 Rock to be added to Hulu every Friday morning or for Full Benefits to be added to CollegeHumor every Monday afternoon, you’re doing pretty much the exact same thing.