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In a deal that signals the ascendance of the independent video creator, MySpace will host and feature the Lonelygirl15 season finale this Friday. The finale, a culmination of the series to date, with 12 episodes released every hour over starting at 8 a.m. Pacific, is a bit of creative freedom that the Lonelygirl creators are taking to wrap up some storylines and play with the pacing of their show in real time.
MySpace has also secured rights to host all Lonelygirl videos, with future installments from season 2 being posted at a dedicated page (note the “lonelygurl15″ spelling, looks like someone else had already nabbed the username).
Lonelygirl15, whose creators had shielded their identities before revealing the show was fiction last year, had initially been hosted on YouTube; then switched to Revver as the default host for http://www.lg15.com/ (while still uploading the videos to multiple sites); and just last week switched back to pasting in YouTube embeds.
As when the show was first uploaded to Revver, now MySpaceTV is making an excited announcement (via emailed press release; should go on the wire soon) to brag about getting to host it. YouTube did a similar thing earlier this year when it named the series one of its first revenue-sharing independent partners.
This is pretty remarkable. The team behind Lonelygirl — Greg Goodfried, Miles Beckett, Mesh Flinders — is not only getting to keep the rights to their content and creative control over it — they’re having people squabble over the right to pay their bandwidth fees. The only time the word “exclusive” turns up in MySpace’s press release for Thursday is very, very precise: “an exclusive partnership to debut LonelyGirl15’s season one finale.”
MySpace isn’t the only one trying to use business development to get access to this team’s brains and its rabid fans. Bebo, the social network that’s dominant in the U.K., cut a deal to be the interactive platform for Goodfried and Beckett’s new show, KateModern, based in London. And deals like this are actually good for the creative side of the show, because social networks, a la Prom Queen, provide perfect environments to bring characters right into the online world of their audience.
Bebo’s team has made quick work of securing TV-priced advertising deals for KateModern, nabbing worldwide brands like Orange, Procter & Gamble, and Windows Live to place their products in the show. While Goodfried and Beckett (who call themselves Telegraph Ave Productions) may have toiled away wondering where the rent would come from for the past year, now people are volunteering to go out and sell ads so the two can do what they do best.
Some independent online video makers have complained about what they’ve lost by choosing a site (generally YouTube) to host their content. Sure, they build an early audience and tie into a network of creators and watchers, but they don’t own those viewers and it’s difficult to port them elsewhere. Meanwhile, their video host builds its own traffic and revenue/valuation on the back of their good video. The solution, and an increasingly common choice, is to set up your own domain and try to drive all your watchers to it.
Now the inverse is happening. The Lonelygirl team has established the show as a hit and its official site as a hub of collaboration and interactivity, so it can move back out into the rest of the web, with portals fighting for the right to distribute its content.