Beset by unrelenting financial woes, the adored Web episodic The Spot
is taking its final bow, its producers confirmed yesterday.
The money troubles of American Cybercast (AMCY), The Spot's creator, were first broadcast on the Net by an executive in January. On Friday, another employee leaked word of the show's demise the same way.
"A series of behind-the-scenes financial problems finally took their toll," the site's executive producer and head writer, Stewart St. John, posted on the official fan board late Friday night.
"So please 'tune in' [today] and see how it all ends," he added.
When it launched in June of 1995, the sassy online soap opera was groomed for success. Chronicling the tangled lives of young roommates in a Southern California bungalow, the show toted big-name advertisers and investors.
But this January, AMCY, a spinoff of the ad agency Fattal & Collins, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, laying off 25 of 40 employees. The filing came after the struggling company canceled two other Web shows, Eon-4 and Quick Fix, due to a cash shortage.
The shows seemed revived in March when a company called Cyber Ventures formed a partnership with Fattal & Collins, dubbed Cyber Oasys, and agreed to pay $114,000 for AMCY's assets before a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. The Spot was to be kept going by eight to ten employees, but another show, The Pyramid, was killed off during the transition.
Despite the new investor's efforts, the cash-strapped soap is being discontinued, according to Roberta Smith, manager of Cyber Ventures.
"The environment for episodic Web sites is not favorable at this time. Although we have one of the most successful sites, it is hard to raise money and be successful," Smith told CNET's NEWS.COM.
"We tried to keep this alive as long as we could because the Spot crew was so creative and ambitious, and the fans were loyal," she added.
Softbank was an original investor in AMCY but has since pulled its support, Smith said.
Softbank recently reneged on its promise to provide an additional round of funding--$500,000--for the online community Electric Minds, which is also facing closure.
After The Spot's final episode, Cyber Ventures will still own AMCY's domain names and all of its intellectual property. "My hope is that we can bring it back when the environment changes," Smith said.
Spot fans expressed their dismay and frustration on The Spot's Motherboard and a privately run site, SpotFans.com.
A zealous fan, Harry Zink, runs the alternative board and is known for his campaigns criticizing creative and management decisions surrounding The Spot.
Zink said he is sad to see The Spot go but is planning his own show. "Most likely, the fans will help start this episodic Web site that is very similar to The Spot about people sharing lives in Los Angeles, called 'Our Life.' We have a couple of Spot fans that are writing characters now."