ManiaTV! doesn't turn out to be the future after all

The subhead on the July 2005 Message column "Maniacal," about the web-based television network ManiaTV!, posed the question, "Is ManiaTV! the future, or a new version of the past?" -- and founder Drew Massey argued that the former would prove to be true. "We're shooting to be the Viacom of the Internet," he announced. "We intend to win the race for viral television on the Internet, and right now, we have the lead. We just have to keep running faster than everybody else."

Massey and company kept up a speedy pace for a while -- but they couldn't outrun shortfalls in ad revenue of the sort that have afflicted many other ambitious online operations in recent decades. Today's Denver Post notes that the firm's "staff was informed this month that the company was closing," and that's technically true. However, this word actually came down weeks ago, as this March 5 item from the SocialTech.com website demonstrates. The development got past local media because ManiaTV! was no longer Colorado-based: The company relocated to Los Angeles in January 2008, only to die there a little over a year later.

At first, ManiaTV!'s model duplicated that of early MTV -- music videos, as played by hosts known as cyber-jockeys, or CJs. Before long, though, ManiaTV! began adding stand-alone shows, including one starring former MTV personality Tom Green -- read his comments about it in the 2006 Message column "Go Green" -- and guitarist Dave Navarro, who spoke to Westword for the August 2007 Message column DaveTV!. These offerings raised ManiaTV!'s profile and increased the number of visits, but they also ratcheted up expenses in a major way. No wonder Green and Navarro are now involved in other projects: Green took part in Donald Trump's over-the-hill reality show Celebrity Apprentice (he was fired by the Trumpster earlier this month), while Navarro is back playing with Jane's Addiction, appearing at this year's South By Southwest music festival alongside old cohort Perry Farrell.

Will ManiaTV! live again in another form? That's certainly the suggestion of a banner on the outlet's website, which declares that "maniaTV 1.0 is no more... Watch this space for the 2.0." Yet paying too much attention isn't likely to pay off. An e-mail sent to the info@maniatv.com address on the screen earlier this morning bounced back as undeliverable.

Looks like that "Viacom of the Internet" mantle is still available...

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