LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “The Beautiful Life,” Ashton Kutcher’s quickly canceled television drama about fashion models, could gain a second chance to find an audience — this time on the Web.
The CW network ended the show’s run in September after just two airings due to poor ratings, leaving Kutcher holding three additional episodes that had been produced but never shown.
So, the former star of “That ‘70s Show” who has transformed into content producer and Web impresario will put all five on YouTube.com, starting on Thursday.
“What we feel like we’re doing is creating, in some ways, an industry first,” Kutcher told Reuters. “A show that couldn’t find its legs on television, we believe can find its legs on the Web.”
Using his own production company, Kutcher created “The Beautiful Life” as a show that looked at the underside of the modeling industry, including its cut-throat competition.
YouTube and Kutcher are banking on the TV-level quality to attract viewers in a crowded Web landscape that has plenty of expensively made reruns, but not a lot of high-end original content.
On the CW, “The Beautiful Life” attracted 1.5 million viewers for the first episode and 1 million for the second, which is a small audience for a network TV show but would be a success for an original, TV-style program on the Web.
Kutcher reckons if he can increase the audience size on YouTube, then he might lure sponsors or others to finance more episodes solely for the Web.
The show’s first batch of episodes — including a third one viewers never got to see on The CW — will play at YouTube starting Thursday. Another two unseen programs will premiere Monday, December 21.
All five of the roughly 40-minute episodes will be shown without commercials, thanks to a sponsorship deal with electronics company Hewlett-Packard.
While the trend in content for the Web has called for short “webisodes” of 5- to 15-minutes, instead of longer shows, Kutcher believes “The Beautiful Life’s” production values will allow it to buck that trend.
“I would bargain that people will be willing to sit a lot longer if the picture looks a lot better,” Kutcher said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte