Dr. Horrible is a wonderful experiment

Joss Whedon, that fella behind those Buffy shows everyone told me to watch 10 years ago, has done something quite amazing. He financed and created an online musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, with a distribution model that perfectly illustrates the new medium.

This is a 42-minute musical separated into 3 episodes. The first episode was released on July 15, the second on July 17 (that’s today!) and the last on the 19th. Watch these episodes for free until July 20. If you miss ‘em or want to see it again, head over to iTunes to buy the set. Believe me. There are enough fans of Whedon’s work to ensure these will be purchased.

Case in point: The first episode, available for $1.99 on iTunes when a viewer can still watch it for free on the Dr. Horrible site, was the #1 downloaded video on iTunes on July 15. 

*Why does this matter? *Whedon, a well sought-after TV creator chose to do the whole thing on his own dime, therefore directing the distribution model of his series. He’s giving it away for free right now, but people are still wiling to pay for it. Why? Content. Early consumers review for free and then reward his efforts buy purchasing the product. Consumers that come later in the game will do so based on the hype created by this distribution model. “People still bought it after getting it for free? I gotta see this.”

Well, that’s one theory.

It will be interesting to see how long this video remains number one on iTunes.

Returning back to more traditional co-pro models in a non-traditional medium, I’ll see what people are saying about Google AdSense’s deal with Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane for his web based series *Cavalcade *in my next post.