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Summary:

Now it gets interesting. Fiver (formerly the Five Life channel) has bought the TV broadcast rights to Bebo’s second online interactive drama…

Now it gets interesting. Fiver (formerly the Five Life channel) has bought the TV broadcast rights to Bebo’s second online interactive drama Sofia’s Diary. The social net gained the option on the format – which began in Portugal in 2003 – and enlisted Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures Television International for the production. It’s part Lonelygirl15-style webcam confessional, part conventional drama – topped off with a blog, viewer comments and social profile embedding.

Bebo president Joanna Shields: “This news represents a milestone for television broadcasting. Fiver’s enthusiasm for Sofia’s Diary shows that it wants to play a role pioneering the next stage of entertainment. When we commissioned the show for Bebo, we believed that providing an entirely engaging experience, on multiple media platforms, was perfect for our key demographic of 16-24 year olds.” Like KateModern, Sofia’s Diary is funded not by ads but in-video brand placement. Weekly views after week two were 2.6 million.

The social media sites are turning in to budget drama power players, with Bebo having commissioned LG15 spin-off KateModern, Sofia’s Diary and The Gap Year. And they’re beginning to turn on their head the traditional TV rights deals – under which websites tended to get scrappy, non-exclusive rights after every man and his dog has optioned a series. Increasingly, it’s web first.

MySpace TV’s US series <iQuarterlife was passed on to NBC for TV broadcast. In the UK, it yesterday premiered the first installment of Hammer Horror’s new movie Beyond The Rave. And the site is now seeking further TV distribution. But are these rights all they’re cracked up to be? Quarterlife was originally conceived for TV but struggled to get carriage, it’s unlikely Beyond The Rave would get a big-screen release anyway.

  1. Rob,

    As you noted in the intro, these deals are increasingly complex – and the complexity is a sign of a maturing market for online shows.

    Not only has Bebo licensed the format from Sony Pictures Television International, who in turn obtained the rights from the Portuguese creators, but also…

    The actual production is by an Irish company, Campbell Ryan Film Productions.

    And the product integration for Unilever’s Sure Girl deodorant was arranged by media planners / buyers MindShare Performance and MindShare Interaction.

    And there’s a (minor) star name in the lead, Rachel Hyde-Harvey from The Bill.

    And now it’s come full circle to be on broadcast TV.

    All that’s missing – and I’m betting there will be a deal – is mobile distribution.

    As for Beyond The Rave, a heavily publicised promotion from MySpace is pretty good going for a UK movie these days. Much better than straight-to-DVD.

    From memory, British-made films that fail to gain a cinema release now run to about 300 titles per annum.

    Hammer should be delighted to be back from the dead, online.

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