Off the line: Independent television and the pitch to reinvent Hollywood

Aymar Jean Christian, University of Pennsylvania


From the moment the Internet was introduced to mainstream America in 1990s, scholars and journalists have feverishly chronicled how new technologies challenged older ones. Businessmen and artists proclaimed web media would disrupt legacy institutions, from print to television. Scholars published numerous case studies on the web's impact on the traditional television and on the rise of the amateur, yet few explored how new media entrepreneurs tried to change the art and business of television from outside traditional media structures. This dissertation investigates the early years (2006-2011) of the market for independent television, or "web series," arguing it represented a historically significant challenge to media industries (Hollywood) in a period of convergence. Through interviews with producers and analyses of trade press, I ask why and how web series creators opted to produce and distribute "television" independently through alternative markets. The web series market reflected what I call "off the line" production in this historical moment. Creators of independent web series, skilled but disempowered workers, attempted to reinvent and reinterpret television's forms of production, storytelling, marketing and distribution. The activity in this cottage industry represented a "pitch" to Hollywood, a different and profitable way of producing and distributing video. In the end I argue off the line producers, spurred by new technologies and a legion of ambitious talents, can introduce creative ways of practicing and conceptualizing media industries, even if those innovations are proscribed by the power and history of traditional institutions.^

Subject Area

Multimedia Communications|Web Studies|Mass Communications

Recommended Citation

Christian, Aymar Jean, "Off the line: Independent television and the pitch to reinvent Hollywood" (2012). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3550943.