KateModern is Bebo’s LonelyGirl15 July 25, 2007Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Social Media, Web Video, YouTube.
The success of YouTube’s beloved fictitious character LonelyGirl15 has inspired a spin-off which this week hit the pages of Bebo, the MySpace of Europe. KateModern has all the best loved elements of Lonelygirl15 which has been viewed over 50 million times. The name is presumably a play on British art museum “Tate Modern.” It’s being produced by the three guys behind Lonelygirl15.
Set in London, the new interactive Web drama is about a 19-year old British college student, her friends, and events around their lives. Like its predecessor, KateModern is told in short, seemingly homemade video clips, bitten up into even smaller morsels (an average of five weekly video blogs, amounting to just 12 minutes of video content per week.)
Plot taps on viewers to contribute ideas and pace
This is not just another drama serial. It leverages the involvement of its fan base, enabling them to post messages for the show’s characters, exchange plot ideas and upload their videos to the characters’ profile pages. The plot is flexible, relying on viewers to contribute ideas on direction and pace. The audience can interact with characters online, and sometimes in real-world events.
What makes the show work is that it is 100 percent compatible with the medium. Our idea wasn’t to take a sitcom and cut it up. We looked at the medium first and thought, how can a story be told on something like YouTube. This story is non-linear, organic, dynamic. It goes back and forth as characters and fans correspond with each other.
MILES BECKETT, KateModern Co-Creator
KateModern will try to encourage a high involvement of its fan base, enabling them to chat to characters, doodle online, help them solve puzzles, exchange plot ideas with other fans, respond to polls and upload their own videos to the characters’ profile pages.
Social networks are becoming the medium of choice for more and more young people. 16-24 year-olds are spending less time on TV and are gravitating to new forms of innovative programming like Lonelygirl15. By bringing together the most interactive online shows with the most engaging social network, we are creating a radically new way for programmers, brands and advertisers to build long-term relationships with the audience.
JOANNA SHIELDS, President – International for Bebo
Bebo expects the project to show advertisers the potential of new programming and the ways brands can interact with audience. The site recently established a direct-agency team in the UK, charged with creating sponsorships and other forms of advertising that move away from a cost-per-thousand-viewers model.
KateModern will air multiple times a week on Bebo before syndicating older episodes to sites like LG15.com. The show will make regular use of product placement instead of standard ads. Bebo is looking for six to eight top brands to sponsor the series, with product and/or name placement. For example, characters could talk about working at an H&M or mention buying a lipstick from CoverGirl in a video blog.
Social networks becoming medium of choice for young
As social networks become a lifestyle medium for the young, the very nature of the Web allows for feedback to be integrated into the KateModern plot, unlike on television where lead times make such interaction impossible. Some fans will even be invited to participate in live shoots in the real world.
Although social networking sites are popular, they are not yet attracting high advertising rates. KateModern will test the business model creating new media content exclusively for the Web. Bebo hopes to tap even bigger audience figures – through KateModern – as a route to raising advertising revenues.
Sponsors include Microsoft and Disney
With over 31 million users worldwide, Bebo has an appealing audience for brands with open-minded marketing teams. Already, some big brands like Microsoft Windows Live and Disney have signed on. This is premium advertising, similar to the cost of advertising with a 20-week television series. Bebo is weaving their products into the storyline, as well as using more traditional banner advertising.
Others are jumping onto this platform. Another broadband drama getting attention is Prom Queen, which debuted last month. The series of eighty 90-second episodes chronicling the lives of high-school graduates is backed by Vuguru, the indie studio set up by former Disney chief Michael Eisner.
As viewers move from TV to the Web, there’s room for innovative storytelling forms beyond pasting photos, blogging and chatting online. Small-screen, clip-length, broadband drama looks set to be the next big thing.