The web as television reimagined? Online networks and the pursuit of legacy media

Aymar Jean Christian*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Television's perceived weakness at the turn of the century opened a rhetorical and economic space for entrepreneurs eager to curate and distribute web programs. These companies introduced various forms of experimentation they associated with the advantages of digital technologies, but they also maintained continuity with television's business practices. This dialectic between old and new, continuity and change, insiders and outsiders, reflected the instability of television as a concept and the promise of the web as an alternative. Using articles in the trade press, this essay explores the history of episodic web programming-variously called web series, webisodes, bitcoms, web television and, in its earliest form, cybersoaps-as new media network executives hoped to replicate but also differentiate themselves from legacy media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-356
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • distribution
  • history
  • new media
  • television
  • web series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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