There may never be another lonelygirl15, especially given its origin as a hoax and as one of the first experiments in what episodic web content could be. But now that it’s finally over, more than 500 episodes later, its creators are wiping the slate clean while applying the lessons they’ve learned over the last two years. The new show, to be called LG15: The Resistance (see trailer below), will premiere Sept. 20.
In the meantime, the LG15 creators have raised money for their new company, EQAL, which is a next-generation content studio embracing social and interactive media. They’ve built their own social network and are furthering the ARG (alternative reality game) integrations of their dark dramas, with new blog posts, videos and photos added every day of the week.
But this time, they’re also realizing that they can reach a different, more casual audience, and will be releasing a single weekly episode of The Resistance every Saturday that ties up all the need-to-know developments of the show into a 6-8 minute video. It includes two of the main characters from lonelygirl15 — Jonas, played by Jackson Davis, and Sarah, played by Alexandra Dreyfus — and furthers some of the storylines with which they were associated.
There will also be a finite lifetime for The Resistance, with 12 episodes over the course of three months followed by a full-day (12 episodes in 12 hours) season finale.
“We love the LG15 universe,” said EQAL CEO Miles Beckett in a recent interview. “But we understand it’s very difficult for new viewers to get involved.”
“There is a core group of people where LG15 literally is their social network — somewhere in the range of 10,000 people every day,” added EQAL president Greg Goodfried. “But probably 100,000 people once every week or two weeks would binge and check out all the content then.”
The Resistance will seek to serve both those audiences — and grow them too.
In the course of preparing their first show since launching their own company, Beckett and Goodfried had to decide whether to build, buy or incorporate existing social networking tools. In the past, lonelygirl15 built a home on YouTube and KateModern lived in the universe of the social network Bebo. EQAL ended up “acq-hiring” a small company that built social networks in Japan and Israel that was so stealthy it didn’t have a name, according to Beckett. That company’s founders now make up the core of EQAL’s engineering team, building a social entertainment platform for episodic content. (EQAL as a whole now has a staff of 17, including salespeople tasked with dealmaking to integrate brands into its shows.)
But that doesn’t mean the company is closing itself off from the rest of the web; it’s not building its own video hosting and player tools, and it will be seeding all the episodes on partner sites like MySpaceTV, imeem, Veoh, YouTube and Hulu. One of those providers will be the core video host embedded on the official Resistance site, but EQAL did not say which. EQAL is also planning YouTube, Flickr and Twitter API integrations.
The company has a full plate of projects, including an Italian series to launch in January 2009 and two to three other international shows. It is also working on deals to option and produce web shows pitched by independent creators and/or co-produce shows with other studios. And, last but not least, EQAL is busy at work on developing interactive features for CBS‘s fall slate of shows.