Web series are similar to serialized television shows but are made for and aired exclusively on the Internet. They are part of the web series genre and come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Web series range from comedies to dramas and everything in between including animated, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, horror, erotica and western series. They are available on Internet-enabled televisions, computers, tablets, and smart phones.
Much like network television shows web series are divided into seasons and episodes. However they are typically shorter than television episodes, running anywhere from a couple of minutes per episode to twenty-two minutes (or more), the approximate length of a half hour television show before commercials are added. The advantage of these shows is they can be watched whenever, wherever, and however a viewer chooses. Although some loyal fans will watch new episodes as they are released, many binge watch several episodes or seasons at once when they have the time to.
Web series run the full spectrum of quality from ill-conceived, poorly produced fiascoes to highly polished professionally produced offerings. There is currently no place to go and find a comprehensive list of all shows, reviews or ratings. For now, word of mouth is the best way to find good shows. Like the Emmy Awards and its categories, the annual Indie Series Awards recognize outstanding work and efforts. These awards can be used as a starting point for learning about shows available and measuring a show's quality.
Some web series air on YouTube, some on their own websites, and some on Internet networks. New shows are continuously being created and released as streaming technology and production become more accessible and cheaper. What was once an independent genre is now being overrun by larger entertainment conglomerates entering the market. Online entertainment sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus have jumped on the web series genre bandwagon and are producing their own shows as viewership and demand for new content increases.
Whether it is a show with big names and a large budget or one created for next to nothing on a laptop, web series are like the wild west with few rules and everything still being defined. The result is some content out there worth its weight in gold for viewers to enjoy.