Picture this: it’s dinnertime, and you have a plate of hot food. What do you do next? If you’re anything like us, chances are you’ll scroll through Netflix, Amazon Prime, or even YouTube to put something on to watch while you munch. This routine is pretty typical to most people, from Gen X to Gen Z. We all have a favorite show or web series to watch at mealtimes.
Back in the days when television was at the height of its popularity, dinnertime slots were highly sought after by tv shows. Even today, the definition of prime time slots puts them between 7 PM-10 PM.
The reach of the internet on multiple screens nowadays gives us seemingly endless content to consume. As a result, tv viewership is on the decline. Web series are gaining immense popularity among viewers in the dust left behind, especially with newer OTT options available.
Let’s take a look at the astronomical rise of web series.
What are Web Series?
A web series is basically a series of videos that may or may not be scripted but are usually released on the internet in an episodic form. A single video in the series is referred to as a webisode, even if the term is not commonly used today. Web series first came out in the late 1990s and grew in prominence through the early 2000s.
They are very popular as they can be easily accessed and watched via many platforms on various devices, from desktop computers to handheld smartphones. Web series tend to be shorter than television shows, making them an ideal choice for a quick watch on the go. Some of the most popular ones are even picked up for broadcast on television, coming a full circle.
Web series are a relatively new form of entertainment to hit our screens, and we can’t get enough of them.
Before we go any further into the making of these web series, let us take a peek at the history behind them.
Web Series: The Origin Story
April of 1995 marked the beginning of the web series with the debut of “Rox,” by a small public access program from Indiana. Fast forward to January of 1999, the TV network Showtime licensed an animated sci-fi webcomic series called “WhirlGirl for online distribution as well as broadcast. It was the first regularly scheduled series on the web created using flash animation. This was a huge feat considering the limitations of dial-up connections at the time.
However, in the 2000s, with an increase in availability and speed of broadband connections, it suddenly became easy to deliver high-quality videos over the internet. This paved the way for the web series to really take off. Not to be left behind, the Japanese anime industry broadcast original net animation series like “Infinite Ryvius: Illusion,” “Ajimu,” and “Mahou Yuugi” in the early 2000s.
Early into 2005, the future of videos on the internet changed forever with the launch of YouTube. The ease in making and sharing videos let many independent web series flourish on the platform. One of these, “lonelygirl15,” garnered over 100 million views over a 26-month stint.
In the following years, players like Microsoft’s MSN Video and broadcast networks like ABC and NBC produced and released their own web series to cash in on the internet.
In the past couple of decades, web series have grown considerably in terms of quality and quantity. The Web 2.0 wave led to integrations like comment sections and other interactive features that boost viewer engagement. Innovations in technology gave rise to crisp videos that better impact viewers.
And with each passing year, we see web series grab more eyeballs than ever before.
Why Web Series?
Imagine, as a viewer, the format of TV shows combined with the ingenuity of independent video makers.
That is essentially what web series provide. Moreover, there isn’t a larger audience than the one over the world wide web. So it makes perfect sense that these series are a great way to connect with viewers across the globe.
Still not convinced?
Here are some reasons why they are the better choice:
- Low Cost: The creation of TV series costs a pretty buck. In contrast, web series require minimal funds from start to finish.
- Faster Turnaround: Web series can be taken from conception to creation in a matter of days. This lets creators bring content to their audience way faster.
As viewers, we’re constantly seeking instant gratification in today’s age. We don’t want to wait one week for an episode to drop. We wish to binge the whole series at a time. Web series offer that chance without taking up too much of our time.
Since their conception, web series have been evolving rapidly, whether it’s the format or the platform. Let’s see what effect newer platforms have on the production and popularity of these series.
Rise of OTT
Web series started out with free streaming on video-hosting platforms. But it wasn’t too long before new streaming platforms decided to cash in on the content. OTT platforms came up with subscription and transaction-based models, enticing us with better video quality and access to exclusive content.
Before OTT, audiences in India and the US consumed TV series differently. Indian TV serials packed volume with neverending sagas that left no room for creative growth. The US TV series had a 24 episode per season format that dropped one episode per week and went on a 6-month hiatus after the season finale. Talk about a long wait!
By contrast, web series offer refreshing content that is churned out quickly and consumed even faster. They push the boundaries of creativity and tackle challenging social issues with riveting narratives.
And frankly, we can’t get enough!
Best Web Series in the Last Couple of Years
The global pandemic had us glued to our screens 24/7 through 2020 and 2021. We were all stuck inside our homes with government-imposed lockdowns. Devoid of outdoor activities, we sought entertainment online. Creators and OTT platforms alike took up the challenge and blessed us with a constant stream of content. Web series were the metaphorical soul food for viewers.
Here are a few web series that helped us through the past couple of years:
- “The Great”– A satirical take on Catherine the Great
- “Never Have I Ever”– A teenage coming of age story with an Indian twist
- “Star Trek: Picard”– Part 8 in the series of the Star Trek franchise
- “Only Murders in the Building”– Extremely bingeable mystery/comedy Starring Steve Martin, Selena Gomez, and Martin Short
- “Mare of Easttown”– Mysterious murder drama series starring Kate Winslet
Not to be excluded, many Indian series also took viewers by storm with enthralling storylines and fast-paced action. Some of the fan favorites include:
- “Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story”– Critically acclaimed series based on the true story of a stockbroker from ‘90s Bombay
- “Aarya”– Riveting series starring former Miss Universe Sushmita Sen
- “Panchayat”– A comedy-drama about rural governance
- “Mumbai Diaries 26/11”– Fictionalized account of 26/11 attacks in Mumbai
- “Aranyak”– Thrilling series starring Raveena Tandon
For shorter original series, check out “Baman Piderman,” “Her Story,” “Cubicles,” “What the Folks,” and many more on Youtube. They’re funny, relatable, charming, and most importantly, you don’t need a subscription to watch!
Web Series to Look Out for in 2022
New year, new watchlist.
If you’re tired of watching old reruns of Friends and The Office, we’ve got you covered. Presenting a host of fresh new web series, in English and Hindi, to watch out for in 2022:
- “How I Met Your Father” – A Hulu series following after the much loved “How I Met Your Mother” series and featuring the return of Hilary Duff to our screens.
- “Unpaused: Naya Safar” – A rare anthology featuring the stories by five unique filmmakers available on Amazon Prime.
- “Humble Politiciann Nograj” – A Voot original series that follows an eponymous 2018 movie and shows local politics with tongue-in-cheek humor and sharp satire
- “Moon Knight” – Upcoming sci-fi drama on Disney+ series by Marvel Studios
- “Finding Anamika” – A suspenseful drama about the mysterious disappearance of a superstar starring Madhuri Dixit Nene
- “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” – This epic drama series will take die-hard fans of J.R.R. Tolkien back thousands of years before the events of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
And, there are many more to come. Featuring talented actors and intriguing storylines, we can’t wait for these series to drop.
Speaking of bingeable content, what about short video apps?
We know that nearly every social media platform today has a short video section dedicated to tiny but entertaining videos. Beyond that, there’s no dearth of dedicated short video apps flooding the internet. It may be hard to imagine web series in vertical videos, but Rizzle has made it possible!
Rizzle Series uniquely combines vertical video elements with the continuity of web series. This gives you a chance to be the writer/producer/director/actor of your very own series. If that’s not your cup of tea, you could always grab your phone and binge some fun, fresh series on the app.
Web series have indeed come a long way since their inception in the ‘90s. As a product of the digital era, web series are currently thriving even as they’re evolving. It remains to be seen what the future holds.
Digital innovations like VFX, AR, VR, and more hold the promise of groundbreaking new ways in which we’ll get to experience web series instead of simply viewing them on a screen.
If this blog inspired you to create your own series, get all the help you need in one app and download Rizzle now!