lonelygirl15, the pioneering online video series, will conclude on Aug. 1 to make way for a new show from its creators and their new company, EQAL. This announcement was buried in the second paragraph of an official blog post that came out July 4 about EQAL launching a social network. It drew an emotional response from the immediate community, but not a peep from outside of it.
EQAL said that its new show, due to launch this fall, would feature some of the same characters as lonelygirl15 and its other recently concluded show, KateModern, but would give new watchers an opportunity to join in without feeling like they needed to view the more than 500 archive videos in order to catch up. When contacted by NewTeeVee over the weekend, EQAL CEO Miles Beckett declined to comment further until an “official announcement” was made. [digg=http://digg.com/television/Has_viral_video_jumped_the_shark_Lonelygirl15_shuts_down]
Two-year-old lonelygirl15 was one of the first big hits on YouTube and one of the first original online series to become popular. The show gained widespread notoriety when it was revealed that it was not a girl’s videoblog, but rather a show made by an organized group of writers and actors. After that, LG15 grew in popularity — even as it developed a dark alternate reality and started killing off central characters — but among its broader contributions was a greater skepticism that everything in online video is a hoax.
EQAL, or “The Creators,” as the group is known in the community, previously said it would premiere a show from “the LG15 universe” in Italy later this year. Not only has EQAL got $5 million in venture funding under its belt, but it recently scored a deal to help CBS make interactive web content. In a follow-up blog post, however, the creators noted that “the new show has nothing to do with the CBS deal.”
EQAL has also given its fans an opportunity to propose an end to the series (winner embedded above), and will host a live public webchat today at 4 p.m. PST to discuss the changes. We’ve been told the LG15 crew is being laid off with the conclusion of the show, but Beckett declined to comment on this as well.
We were surprised when EQAL discontinued KateModern (the British lonelygirl15 spinoff) — but suspected the move had to do with business arrangements, since the show was put together with Bebo before the incorporation of EQAL. We’ve also wondered how web series should know when to exit gracefully, since they don’t have to conform to broadcast television conventions and constraints. But we can seen how after all this time, lonelygirl15 — which has collected more than 100 million views and is still the 18th-most-subscribed-to channel on YouTube — would want a fresh start.