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The creators of one of the web's most successful video shows are giving up on creating new content. Due to the financial deifficulty of branding original concepts, EQAL (the makers of lonelygirl15) have stopped producing original content.

Struggling to find advertising partners able to support their original content online, EQAL will now focus on creating video with stars that already have established audiences, like FoodNetwork star Paula Dean.

According to NewTeeVee:

"First up is Get Cookin’; the reality TV/cooking show hybrid follows Deen on the road, and fans will be encouraged to upload their own videos and blog posts. There’s also a pending project for CSI-creator Anthony Zuiker, called Level26.com (pictured), a “digi-novel” that includes online and actual bound book storytelling, as well The Kind Life, a green-centric series fronted by actress Alicia Silverstone."

This comes on the heels of two other video content creators closing down. In March, both ManiaTV and PluggedIn folded.

The move by EQAL gets to the heart of the dilemma facing user generated video content online. Quality video content is expensive to produce, and advertisers are still shy to attach their brand to untested programming.

Many viral stars have gone on to find a bit more fame and fortune pairing with large brands in advertising campaigns and other projects. Just last week, Carl's Jr. recruited eight YouTube stars to be a part of a new ad campaign for the fast-food chain on the video-sharing site.

But the model for producing content is more unstable. It is expensive, risky and doesn't always pay off.

According to Mike Hudack, CEO of video sharing site Blip.tv: "It's hard to create shows.  Very hard.  It's the same whether your medium is television or the radio or the Internet.  It takes guts, patience and lots of hard work.  But if you hit it... the rewards can be great."

As AdAge pointed out last week, mid-tail content (the sort of low budget produced content that comes from sites like College Humor, Smosh and MyDamnChannel) is thriving online.

Those sites are making headway towards maintaining meaningful advertising partnerships, but popularity does not necessarily lead to profitability. And many incipient video channels are still heavily indebted to venture capital to survive.

Lonelygirl15 found immense popularity with little to no funding on YouTube. As of July of last year, the series had more than 110 million combined views on YouTube. But LG15 (the entity that became EQAL) was not an established brand at the time, and experimenting with lonelygirl star Jessica Rose was less of a risk for them. Now that the company has a track record and some funding, they are trading up to work with preestablished brand names rather than take the risk neccessary to develop their own programming from scratch.

EQAL’s co-founder and COO Greg Goodfried tells NewTeeVee: “We definitely believe in the creation and production of original content for the Internet. It’s just more challenging now."

Goodfried thinks original content creation has to happen with little to no money and have "its own hub where a community can be built (and become less reliant on the promotional whims of YouTube)." But even with those concessions, he thinks that brands will continue to have trouble establishing and maintaining relationships with advertisers.

Images: top: lonelygirl15's Jessica Rose. bottom: Paula Deen

Meghan Keane

Published 12 June, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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