Eager to build buzz, online sites hope to impress TV critics

Wed Jan 9, 2013 7:14am EST
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Web comedy series "Old Jews Telling Jokes" has been viewed more than 18 million times since its 2009 launch on online video network Blip, but the show hasn't generated the level of media attention bestowed on big broadcast or cable TV programs.

This week, Blip's CEO and three producers will descend on Pasadena, Calif., where reporters and critics will gather for the Television Critics Association Press Tour, a must-stop for any show to get the kind of publicity that helps grab eyeballs among the growing array of TV and digital content.

Blip, which will promote "Old Jews Telling Jokes" and two other shows, joins a growing parade of online video outlets making the pilgrimage to TCA along with traditional networks. This year, Netflix Inc is also joining. Last year it was Hulu and Google Inc's YouTube.

During the 14-day TCA meeting, networks trot out their biggest stars and producers to chat about their shows and provide behind-the-scenes insight during question-and-answer sessions, set visits and lavish cocktail parties.

Fox featured Kevin Bacon, star of its new serial killer drama "The Following." HBO brought Matt Damon and Michael Douglas to talk about an upcoming movie about the entertainer Liberace.

Blip will present Eric Spiegelman, producer of "Old Jews Telling Jokes," an unscripted series that features Jewish men and women telling humorous stories.

Julian Smith, a comedian who creates short comedy sketches, and Chris Gethard, star of a weekly variety show, also will appear during Blip's presentation on Wednesday.

Blip, which is backed by venture capital firms Bain Capital and Canaan Capital, aims to showcase the quality of its programs on the Web, said CEO Kelly Day, the former head of digital media and commerce at Discovery Communications.   Continued...