This ain't your Momma's TV
Pseudo Programs combines the the dramatic allure of TV programming with the technological capabilities of the Internet. Founder Joshua Harris created the company in 1994, which initially provided chat and other entertainment content for Prodigy. From the start, the fledgling media company has had a reputation for being brash, trendy, and young - in the early days, its 30,000 square foot Soho office was the locale for music and TV industry parties that attracted crowds of artsy hipsters and industry execs. Today, however, Pseudo is recognized as a major player in the highly-competitive business of providing online television content. With 50 shows spanning an average of 150 hours of original programming each week, it offers something for everyone in its primary demographic - people between the ages of 16 and 34 who are Internet-savvy and interested in a range of cultural, business, and style programming lying outside the range of mainstream media.
Pseudo's twelve unique channels include 88HIPHOP.COM, devoted to hip hop music and culture; PseudoPolitics, which will have the first interactive Webcasts of political conventions for both parties in Summer 2000; the BizTech2000 channel offers the latest news and gives the inside edge on business and technology. Pseudo expects to add anoher 13 channels before the end of the year. With programs ranging from Risky Advisor, a sexual advice show, to Mission Control, Over, a program about space travel, Pseudo offers a range of programming not found anywhere on traditional television. The shows can run from a few minutes to an hour in length. Most shows are streamed live, although some are preproduced and viewers can access almost all shows in archive form. Many of the live shows are interactive, mostly using online chat rooms.
In October 1999, Pseudo struck deals to provide content for both Excite and RealNetworks. It also signed on with the NFL Quarterbacks' Club - an organization designed to promote the league's top players - to offer the QB Club Channel. The channel broadcasts features on QB Club members' lives off the field, as well as other live, animated, and interactive shows featuring the players. In exchange for its estimated $4 million to $6 million investment in Pseudo, the QB Club has received a sizeable minority stake in the company. The infusion of cash augmented the $14 million the company raised in its latest round of venture capital financing earlier that year. With such solid financial backing, Pseudo now has its eye on a future public offering.
Despite the relatively inexpensive cost of producing streaming Web-based television - a typical episode usually runs under $50,000 - it remains to be seen whether Pseudo and its growing list of competitors will ultimately usher in a new era in mass communication. Picture quality and fluidity are relatively poor for people without high-speed Internet access, who still represent a large portion of Pseudo's potential audience. Nonetheless, the company is hopeful that when high-bandwidth connections become more widely utilized, its edgy programming will catapult it over its rivals. This optimism increased when one of Pseudo's major rival's, the Digital Entertainment Network (DEN), called it quits in May 2000. DEN was producing TV quality programming and spending close to $50,000 for only six minutes of programming. At Pseudo, the company keeps the cost of programming for one hour under five figures, taking a far less Hollywood approach.
Working at Pseudo takes a special sort of flair. Even though Pseudo boasts such bigwigs as the new CEO and former CNNfn exec David Bohrman and other former ABC, AOL, Discovery, and NBC Interactive execs, most of the people who work at Pseudo are young, enthusiastic, and willing to work long hours. They vary in experience and background, but all of them have extensive knowledge of and a keen love for the Internet. In early 2000, Pseudo came under scrutiny after a female ex-employee filed a sexual harassment lawsuit worth $3 million. The charges made were based on behavior back in teh day when Harris threw his extravangant parties and made appearances in his drag persona "Luvvy"-something he rarely does anymore. One hopes that Pseudo's treatment of women has changed since the late 90's, and with fewer and fewer complaints over the company's behavior in the past two years, it seems that possibility is likely.
Pseudo does not list company-wide openings on its web site, but some of the individual channels list project-to-project openings occasionally.
Internet television programming
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