Is Web video the new "direct to DVD"?

Viacom is determined not to fall into the music industry's technophobic trap. Instead, it's embracing the online-video frenzy by releasing Jackass 2.5 directly onto the Web next week. Initially offered as a free streamed video on Blockbuster's Movielink, it will eventually move to pay outlets like iTunes and, yes, DVD — which is where this on-the-cheap knockoff probably would have landed just a couple years ago.

The stunt, as explained by execs at MTV and Paramount, is to prove that digital distribution is a viable business model for long-form entertainment. If so, it only proves this much: Junk distribution channels attract junk content. Instead of going direct to DVD, producers are now saving their worst efforts for the Web. The only difference between Jackass 2.5 and Michael Eisner's Prom Queen is the length of time it takes to bore us.