November 24, 2008

Sony Rolls Out Online Entertainment

An entertainment website backed by Sony Corp is borrowing a television tradition as it unveils a slew of new programs found only on the Internet. is the latest move by a division of a major media company to bolster online entertainment; sketches include L.A. comedy troupe "The Groundlings," and a five-minute talk show called "Anytime with Bob Kushell" hosted by a Hollywood writer.

Crackle and parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment, have copied television by rolling out Web shows in "seasons," leaving behind "webisodes" that pop up online as soon as they are created.

Crackle's new season begins on December 1. The shows resemble other online programming by staying short, often no more than five minutes long.

"Just because it has higher production values doesn't mean we're trying to mirror movies and TV," said Eric Berger, a Sony executive in charge of Crackle.

Berger said during the Kushell talk show, he would do a monologue, a comedy routine and a celebrity interview -- and do it all fast. He said there would even be time for snippets of an in-studio band.

"You get your whole late-night talk show snack within five minutes," he said. "They're very funny."

Crackle's new season features six shows, the first to hit the Web will be "The Jace Hall Show," which focuses on video games and begins December 1.

"The Groundlings" webisodes are offered December 16. "Owen Benjamin Presents," which revolves around comedic how-to segments, begins December 17. "The Hustler" and "Star-ving" begin January 12 and January 16, respectively.

"Star-ving" stars David Faustino of the former TV sitcom "Married ... With Children."

Berger said Sony is using the shows to attract advertisers on the site, but would not say how much the company expects from ad revenue.

According to research firm The Nielsen Online Co., 2.4 million people visited in October.

"For us, this is a very solid business that we're committed to as a company," Berger said.


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