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From YouTube to Your Tube

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Somebody’s been watching Nobody’s Watching, and soon more of them may be. As speculated here and elsewhere, the resurrection on YouTube of the rejected WB pilot of an inside-TV satire from the maker of Scrubs has led it to be picked up by an old-fashioned TV-box network, NBC. Per a Peacock press release this morning:

NBC has approved a deal with the buzz-generating comedy pilot "Nobody’s Watching" – hailed for its instant popularity on YouTube where it has been downloaded over 600,000 times – from Emmy Award-nominated writer-producer Bill Lawrence (NBC’s "Scrubs") and NBC Universal Television Studio.  The announcement was made today by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.  The deal includes ordering webisodes and the development of scripts with the intention of ordering an on-air NBC primetime series sometime this season.

The "intention" of ordering a series only gets you so far, of course, but if the series gets picked up, this should be a good thing for TV development overall. An actual vetting by honest-to-God TV fans, seeking out a show intentionally–as opposed to the focus groups of bored tourists corralled by the networks in places like Las Vegas–might have spared us God knows how many Joeys and Emerils. How long before the first major network puts at least part of its development online, to be voted on by the public? How long, for that matter, until someone gets a network pilot deal for a homegrown video they’ve put on the Web?

The buzz around this deal, in any event, will only raise the profile of YouTube as a player in the entertainment business. And since NBC recently signed a deal to promote its shows, what’s good for YouTube should be good for NBC–and just maybe, eventually, for your tube too.

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