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A webisode is a portmanteau formed by the words 'web' and 'episode' that designates to an episode of a (TV) series short episode that initially scripted for Internet television. It is available as either download or stream as opposed to first airing on broadcast or cable television. The format can be used as a preview, a promotion, as part of a collection of shorts, or a commercial.[1][2]

First introduced in the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in 2009, a Webisode may or may not have been broadcasted on TV. What defines it is its online distribution through video-sharing web sites such as Vimeo or YouTube, or its availability for download through peer-to-peer protocols, such as BitTorrent. While there is no set standard for length, most webisodes are relatively short, ranging from 3–15 minutes in length.[3] It is a single web episode, but collectively is part of a web series, a form of new medium called web television that characteristically features a dramatic, serial storyline, where the primary method of viewership is streaming online over the Internet.[4] While there is no set standard for length, most webisodes are relatively short, ranging from 3–15 minutes in length.[5]


Webisodes have recently become increasingly common in the midst of the post-broadcast era, which has been influenced by new media formats such as the internet. Contemporary trends indicate that the Internet has become the dominant mechanism for accessing Media Content.[6] In 2012, the Nielsen Company reported that the number of American household with television access has diminished for the second straight year, showing that viewers are transitioning away from broadcast television.[7] The popularity of webisodes expanded because the internet has become a potential solution to television's ailments by combinging interpersonal communication and multimedia elements alongside entertainment programing.[8] an enormous audience transitioning away from broadcast television. These original web series are a means to monetize this transitional audience and produce new celebrities, both independently on the web and working in accordance to the previous media industry standards.[9]:15 Content has moved onto the web through the conventional media's branded websites, but more notably through video services like YouTube; the distribution of television increasingly occurs through viral, rather than broadcast, networks such as those available through blogs or social networking services. Webisodes are also noted for their use of the Internet for further exchange of information, news and gossip about the series on various social networks.[10]:2

Uses In Marketing[edit]

Webisodes are part of a trend called branded entertertainment, which is growing due to marketers searching for new methods to reach consumers in an era where the traditional media is losing viewers to the Internet.[11] In 2011, Jeff Schroeder, known for his roll in the reality series The Amazing Race, assisted AT&T with a digital marketing scheme based arly ound webisodes. The campaign followed Schroeder around the world in 100 days using only his AT&T phone and netbook.[12]

Original Web Comedy[edit]

Some of the most notable Webisodes are original comedies generated for an audience online vierwers. Original comedies have become the preffered genre for webisodes because they deliver ae low budget format for experimentation and prompt results. These original web comedies are a means to monetize the audience [9]:15

The model for the popular website Funny or Die, for example, is based entirely on distributing a variety of original comedy web series. Comedians Will Ferrell and Adam McKay started this initiative with their series of webisodes about a vulger two-year-old landlord. The series was streamed over 50 million times on Funny or Die and led the site to eventually earn over $50 million dollars annually.[10]:17 Soon enough Funny or Die received serious attention from major television outlets and a partnership was initiated between the website and the premium cable network HBO. The relationship resulted in the program Funny or Die Presents, which airred its first episode on HBO in February 2010 and actually featured recycled footage of webisodes that had already run on the website. [9]:14


New media and popular imagination: launching radio, television, and digital media in the United States[13]

"The Missing Link Moment": Web Comedy in New Media Industries[9]

Television studies after TV: understanding television in the post- broadcast era[10]

Webisode Examples[edit]

The Spot by Scott Zakarin[edit]

Funny or Die[edit]



  • 2009: Webisode is inducted as a word into the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
  • 1996: Earlier usage by the textually based seaQuest 2047 to describe their periodic publications, beginning circa 1996.
  • 1995: Created by the first Internet serialized fiction called The Spot created by Scott Zakarin It was used to describe the series. Derivational words also created at the time: Webisodic.


  1. ^ Stelter, Brian (2008-08-31). For Web TV, a Handful of Hits but No Formula for Success. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-01-23.
  2. ^ Graham, Jefferson (2005-10-23). "Webisodes return, now as advertising". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Carlson, Meghan (2008-12-29). "Webisodes Cure Mid-Season Blues for 'Heroes', 'Office' Fans". Buddytv. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  5. ^ Hale, Mike (2008-12-28). "NBC Bridges Series Gaps With Online Minidramas". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  6. ^ Young, Sherman (2011). "Review - Television studies after TV: Understanding television in the post-broadcast era". Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. Routledge. 25 (1): 125–129. 
  7. ^ Stelter, Brian (3 May 2012). "Nielsen Reports a Decline in Television Viewing". New York Times. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  8. ^ Aymer Jean Christian
  9. ^ a b c d Nick Marx
  10. ^ a b c [Graeme Turner, Jinna Tay] Turner, Graeme; Tay, Jinna (2009). Television studies after TV: understanding television in the post- broadcast era. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-203-87831-0. Retrieved 2013-02-19. 
  11. ^ Elliot, Stuart (2009-11-23). Shows Online, Brought to You by .... The New York Times
  12. ^ Cardona, Mercedes (2011-11-01). Webisodes promote AT&T. Direct Marketing News
  13. ^ [Boddy William]

Category:Neologisms Category:Words coined in the 1990s Category:Internet television

See also[edit]