Asher Moses – Sydney Morning Herald
February 19, 2007 – 12:20PM
The next generation of TV dramas will let viewers break free from the shackles of the couch and restrictive broadcaster schedules, says Sony Pictures Television.
In a first for the studio, it has acquired all international television, digital sell-through, gaming and mobile rights to a futuristic animated show called Afterworld.
Produced by Emmy Award nominee Stan Rogow (known for his work on Lizzie McGuire and All I Want for Christmas) and written by Brent Friedman (Mortal Kombat 2), Afterworld will be distributed across all platforms including TV, the web and mobile phones.
Accompanying this will be original web-only content to draw viewers even further into the plot.
SPT’s description of the show says: “Afterworld is about life on earth after an inexplicable global event renders technology useless and 99 per cent of the population missing.”
It follows New Yorker Russell Shoemaker as he unravels the mystery of the event and searches for his family.
The announcement of the deal was made by SPT’s international arm, but the Australian division’s managing director, Jack Ford, said he expected the show to launch locally within the next three or four months.
“It’s a visionary program in my view – I don’t think anything like it has ever been attempted before,” he said.
Ford said he was in talks with local broadcasters to determine which would acquire the rights to distribute the show locally.
Episodes of Afterworld will be consumed as 130 two-minute episodes or, in the case of TV, 13 half-hour episodes.
Supplementing these will be the website, www.Afterworld.tv, which SPT said would offer “archived back episodes, daily journal entries, community blogs, interactive content applications and online games”.
The result, SPT hopes, will be a far more immersive, flexible experience for today’s “digital consumer”.
In a statement, Friedman said: “As much as I’ve enjoyed working in all the conventional mediums, I believe we have created something that represents a new form of content – the online convergence of television and video games.”
Australian broadcasters are already heading in this direction. Network Ten has just launched its revamped website, which offers sub-sites for individual shows that the network says will include downloadable content and community features.
“For some programs there will be the availability of full episodes, for others it will be highlights and short clips, for other programs it will be additional web-only content,” Ten’s general manager of digital media, Damian Smith, said when announcing the site revamp late last year.