Paramount Digital Entertainment Launches Interactive Thriller Series on MySpace

--Broadband Video Round-Up: Babelgum Interactive Series, Break.com, FA Cup, Last.FM, Colbert, Vevo

Paramount Digital Entertainment (PDE) on Tuesday launched an original, interactive supernatural thriller series, called "Circle of Eight," exclusively on MySpace. The 10-part series, which was produced in association with Mountain Dew's Green Label Studios, is billed as using gaming and social media to propel its story forward. Its first three episodes are currently available on MySpace (myspace.com/circleof8); episodes four and five will be made available November 3rd; and the remaining episodes will be made available each week through the series' finale on December 8th.

According to PDE, "'Circle of Eight' tells the story of a young woman who moves into an historic building, The Dante, where she encounters an assortment of neighbors harboring a mysterious secret that unravels in a chain of deaths and supernatural interactions." The company says that the series' interactive elements include hidden clues (embedded in its video), an online and mobile game, and exclusive material that can be unlocked through game play. Via MySpace, it incorporates extensive social-networking features, PDE says, allowing viewers to share and embed content, interact through social gaming, and broadcast their thoughts via forums and commenting. "MySpace's exclusive distribution of 'Circle of Eight' speaks directly to our goal of providing content to our users in an innovative and interactive manner," Jason Kirk, MySpace's VP of video and entertainment, said in a prepared statement. "The program matches up nicely to our strengths within multiple areas of entertainment and with a younger demographic. We're pleased to be working with Paramount Digital Entertainment and all companies involved to bring the series to such a large audience through both online and offline routes." Following its run on MySpace, "Circle of Eight" is slated to be available for rent at Blockbuster stores, as well as by mail and through Blockbuster On Demand. According to PDE, the film version will include additional scenes and a surprise alternate ending.

PDE says that Mountain Dew's branding will play a critical role in the series' storyline: one of the show's characters joins a "Green Label Art" community and creates a "Green Label Art" bottle, the company says, and the bottle is also featured in the show's online game, where it "unlocks deeper mysteries in the 'Circle of Eight' storyline" (note: Green Label Art is the brand of a "limited edition" series of aluminum bottles from Mountain Dew that the company says were designed by "a select group of artists from the world of contemporary art and culture"). In addition to seeing Mountain View's branding incorporated into the show, the soft drink brand's partnership with PDE will see it promoting the show at stops on its Dew Action Sports Tour, in movie theaters and on TV. "From the start of our collaboration on this project, it's been essential that Mountain Dew has an authentic purpose within the 'Circle of Eight' storyline and provides value in the interactive experience," Frank Cooper, SVP and chief consumer engagement officer at Pepsi-Cola North American Beverages, said in a prepared statement.

According to PDE, "Circle of Eight" creators, Milchan/Van Eyssen, produced a "unique interactive experience" for viewers across operating systems and devices, using the Adobe Flash Platform and Creative Suite 4 software (note: the show's interactive creative producer is Sean Naughton, who has previously served as cinematic director for Microsoft Games Studios and as executive producer on Sony's "Quantum of Solace" interactive site). Adobe tools and technologies were used in the majority of the workflow stages for both the filmed entertainment and interactive production, including a mobile application and a gaming widget, the company says. The company says that it can deliver the show's multiple interactive elements to viewers across devices using Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR, "because of efforts by the Open Screen Project, an industry-wide initiative led by Adobe and supported by PDE and close to 50 other industry leaders, to enable people to engage with rich Internet experiences across any device, anywhere."

In other broadband video content news:

  • Babelgum has announced a new block of comedic sci-fi/horror programming for its Comedy Channel. The block includes four new series that have been created exclusively for the company's mobile and online distribution platforms. One of the new series, entitled "The Occulterers" and written by/produced by/co-starring Hayden Black, incorporates live interactivity. It will follow a team of ghost hunters who will be exploring a genuine Transylvanian castle: "Viewers can...watch live feeds from the castle, and tweet the Occulterer team what they see or hear (@occulterers)," Babelgum explains in press materials for the new show. "While filming, the team will react to the messages and occasionally name-check their favorites. In addition," Babelgum continues, "there will be a Vampire flashmob streamed live in partnership with dreadcentral.com on Halloween in Los Angeles at Mexico (8512 Santa Monica Blvd at La Cienega) along the annual Weho Parade route at 6:17PM and another at 10:00PM at the Art of Elysium fundraiser at the W Hotel in Westwood. More information will be available via the 'Occulterers' Twitter feed."
  • Break Media, a company that specializes in broadband video entertainment targeted at a young male demographic, has launched a Horror Channel on its Break.com Web site. According to the company, the channel features "a full line-up of original content, new premium content [from Comcast's FEARnet], and user-contributed video offerings all in the spirit of Halloween."
  • UK commercial terrestrial broadcaster, ITV, has announced plans to offer extensive live and on-demand coverage of soccer's FA Cup.
  • Last.FM, the online music service that was acquired in 2007 by CBS for $280 million, is set to expand into video with the launch of a new service called Last.TV, according to an article in Media Week.
  • Verizon is sponsoring "The Colbert Report in :60," a one-minute broadband video recap of the previous night's episode of the eponymous satirical show which is available on colbertnation.com and Verizon's Facebook page, and which viewers can also embed on their own Web page, blog or social networking profile.
  • Vevo, a YouTube-powered broadband TV service for music videos that is backed by Universal Music and Sony, and that recently received a significant investment from Abu Dhabi Media Co., has secured a sponsorship deal with AT&T in advance of its launch. The service, which is slated to launch later this year, will be available on YouTube, Vevo.com and through a branded embedded player.

 

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