Last year I was lucky enough to meet Miles Beckett, one of the creators of Lonelygirl15, when I moderated a symposium for the Portable Film Festival team. Young British director Luke Taylor and Australian actress Tara Rushton were also on the panel and were promoting the Kate Modern series which had recently been launched in the UK as a spin off of Lonelygirl15. At the time the investment of Bebo in Kate Modern was a talking point, particularly as LG15 had cut deals with MySpace in the US.
The Show is Everywhere is the motto of the new entity Eqal which was announced in April 2008 to supplant LG15 which was the company behind Lonelygirl15 and Kate Modern. The business strategy seems to be to cut non-exclusive deals with the big portals to provide video entertainment which is tailored to sit within a social network. Beckett calls Eqal a ‘social entertainment company’ and this is the distinctive formula has made their work a success on the internet. If you look at Lonelygirl15 or Kate Modern they aren’t just shortform linear video posted on the web. While they can be enjoyed as a ‘lean back’ experience they are also highly interactive experiences which encourage audiences to participate in the creative process. This is how they see it:
We believe that the community is just as important as the content we create. With this as our blueprint, we construct interactive shows that transform passive viewers into active participants. Our shows entertain and enlighten, driving discussion and encouraging viewers and participants to immerse themselves in a shared entertainment experience. Interactivity lies at the heart of all our shows through the seamless integration of online discussion and live events with community generated content and professionally produced material.
Eqal is backed by $5 million dollars of venture capital investment and backers include Netscape founder Marc Andreesen among others. ‘Social entertainment’ is similar to TV but it’s a distinctly new form which has been designed for the internet and the ecology of social networks. The rules of engagement with audiences are changing and Eqal is one great example of innovation in form. More information about the Eqal deal here.