Earlier this month LonelyGirl15, one of the most successful examples of viral web marketing to date, aired its last episode. The series originally began as a joint project created by Miles Beckett, Greg Goodfried, and Ramesh Flinders, who produced a series of YouTube videos portraying the life of a fictional 16 year old girl named LonelyGirl15. The videos presented LonelyGirl15’s life as if it was real, leading to a media scandal when the fictional nature of the show was revealed. Following the revelation (and the show’s continued popularity), the founders launched Kate Modern, a British web show hosted on Bebo that was set in the same fictional world.
In April, Beckett and Goodfried formed EQAL and raised $5 million to produce the remainder of LonelyGirl15 and Kate Modern, as well as a number of future series. Today, the company has released a number of details concerning its new show, LG15: The Resistance, which launches on September 20.
As part of the new series, LG15.com will be relaunching as a hybrid blog/social network designed to further the level of viewer immersion. Equal’s founders say that they’ve built the social network themselves because it gives them greater freedom during the course of the shows (for example, they could modify the look and feel of the site depending on recent events in each story), but that the network isn’t designed to compete with the likes of Facebook or MySpace.
EQAL will also be upping the show’s distribution, with syndication deals with MySpaceTV, imeem, Veoh, YouTube and Hulu. But while the show will be available in many places, each episode will contain subtle mentions of the LG15.com site, telling users to visit it if they’d like to participate. The LG15.com will also include frequent updates, though these won’t be essential to understand the overall storyline.
There have been a number of attempts to create “distorted realities” online through online shows and games, but few of these have managed to take off – users generally find it hard to suspend their disbelief enough to enjoy themselves. EQAL’s approach may be able to skirt this issue by catering to hardcore and casual fans alike, allowing users to consume as much content as they’re comfortable with.