Case Study

'Break a Leg,' Eternal Wish for TV Hopefuls

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Creators: Yuri and Vlad Baranovsky, co-creators and co-writers for the original Web comedy series "Break a Leg." The pair are brothers. Yuri Baranovsky is also the head writer for Web series "The Circuit," a MojoHD program.

The Distributors: "Break a Leg" is distributed by Web video shop For Your Imagination across Breakaleg.tv, blip.tv, YouTube, Metacafe, MySpace, DailyMotion, Revver and iTunes.

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The Sponsors: The Web series "The Smart Show" by Holiday Inn Express has sponsored "Break a Leg" in the past and is sponsoring the show this summer. Display ads have also run against the show. Making money is still tough with independent Web video, especially for a show that's modeling itself after a traditional sitcom, Yuri Baranovsky said. "YouTube is still the best site for making money in general, and they still don't pay out enough to support a show yet," he said. Ad revenue for "Break a Leg" ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 per month, Mr. Baranovsky said. That money is allocated to expenses for the show first and the remaining amount is split with For Your Imagination. Mr. Baranovsky said the creators make anywhere from nothing to $2,000 in net revenue from each video, depending on the sponsorship running at the time.

The Backstory: "Break a Leg" began in March 2006 when the Baranovsky brothers created an episode for a MySpace contest. The show didn't win, but Break a Leg began to develop a small fan base from that effort. "We had people write in to MySpace and Fox and they were saying 'Break a Leg has to win' and that pushed us to produce a full episode," Yuri Baranovsky said. He produced the first episode and launched it on the Web in August 2006. The creators produced a few more episodes that first year. In July 2007, Break a Leg partnered with Web production and distribution shop For Your Imagination in New York. For Your Imagination handles the marketing, promotion, distribution and ad sales for the show. The Baranovsky brothers continue to write, produce and create the show along with co-producers Justin Morrison and Dashiell Reinhardt.

The Content: "Break a Leg" is a sitcom for the Web, in the same vein as "The Office," "Arrested Development" or "30 Rock." The storyline focuses on a writer whose sitcom "Groomates" has just been picked up by a network and the lead character learns that life in Los Angeles is nothing like he imagined. The episodes are modeled after traditional TV show comedies in length but are released in shorter parts. Each part runs six to eight minutes and follows a general story arc. The show is currently running the season finale for the third season. The finale is being released in several parts from July through October.

Endgame: Mr. Baranovsky wants to write for traditional TV, either for "Break a Leg" or another show. "We would love to make the hop from the Internet to TV," Mr. Baranovsky said.