KateModern to Conclude, But Why?

KateModern, the interactive drama from EQAL that’s been huge on Bebo, is concluding on June 28, according to the Guardian. The move comes as a total surprise, given the show had won a dedicated audience, along with more than 50 million total video views, and was championed as a success by Bebo and EQAL alike.

According to current press materials from EQAL, KateModern, which is essentially the British version of lonelygirl15, receives 200,000 to 500,000 views per video, with some episodes getting over a million views. The Guardian quotes a higher number of 1.5 million views per episode, something that’s hard to fact-check given that Bebo doesn’t publish view counts. Bebo recently told Beet.tv it had one billion video views per month across its entire property.

A KateModern blog post on Bebo doesn’t get any more specific about the cause for the cancellation.

Telling this story has been so much fun and although it will be sad to say goodbye to Charlie, Gavin, Steve, Julia, Lee, Lauren and Sophie, we all feel proud to have created a show that has definitely earned its place in TV and internet history.

I would say the cancellation might have something to do with AOL buying Bebo and shutting down old projects, but post-acquisition the social network seems to be full steam ahead with original content. It is launching its new series The Gap Year next week. Perhaps EQAL wanted to define a project more on its own terms now that it is a venture-funded company. However, it had a pretty good thing going with Bebo, since the social network had handled sponsorship acquisition for the show, making it profitable from the beginning.

EQAL president and COO Greg Goodfried did indicate to us last month that the company would be looking to bring its shows’ community experience under its own roof rather than via Bebo and MySpace. “Not that we have anything against them, but from our experience it’s really great to have everyone on this web site who’s interested,” he said.

Or perhaps EQAL is learning to quit while it’s ahead from its experience with lonelygirl, which saw a sophomore slump after killing off its lead character, Bree. As we’ve written before, the web medium doesn’t require series finales and cancellations, but artistic inspiration can and does dry up. Still, KateModern killed off its lead character as well, this past January, and apparently hasn’t suffered.

And anyways, LG15 is still running, and EQAL CEO Miles Beckett told us the company will remain committed to “the same fictional world, the same mythology” as LG15 and KateModern in future series it creates, following the model of localizing them geographically. At the time, Beckett made no mention of plans to discontinue either series.

We’ve asked Bebo and EQAL for comment and will update with their replies.

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