September 27, 2007
Coastal Dreams the Lastest Online Video Series

Among all the discussion about the television shows launching this season is a whole other series of programming launching this fall as well: new online series.

In the past couple of weeks, I have written about new online series like Crescent Heights, sponsored by Tide, and Quarterlife, the online television series from the creators of thirtysomething and My So-Called Life.

Now, there has been some buzz about another new online series, launched from NBC, called Coastal Dreams. According to the series' site, Coastal Dreams "is a new online-only drama featuring two young women living, working and playing in the scenic seaside town of Pacific Shores."

The show, which will be given a 24-episode run, bills itself as "interactive" and "immersive," based on getting text messages from the characters, character blogs and social networking profiles, and related transmedia documents. The question is how much these materials will be used to meaningfully further the narrative or whether they are primarily seen as marketing ancillaries that have little to do with the show itself.

It remains to be seen whether the show will live up to the hype of interactivity and immersiveness that surrounds it, but it is yet another indication that networks are more frequently investing in online video series.

NBC has also launched Pale Force online, an animated series from Conan O'Brien and Jim Gaffigan that has been nominated for an Emmy in the past. This series is co-promoted through O'Brien's late night show, with episodes being launched on Conan and then continued online. See more from Cory Bergman at Lost Remote.

Caroline at A Place Called Say it, Say It, Say It writes about how NBC is directly contacting some bloggers to get support in the blogosphere for Coastal Dreams, ironic in this case, since the NBC e-mail openly acknowledged that she wouldn't be able to watch it online in Canada. For the record, I wasn't solicited by anyone related to the show about this, but I did hear from reader Andrew Metzler alerting me to its impending debut.

Meanwhile, Richard Verrier and Dawn C. Chimielewski with the Los Angeles Times points out that ABC and CBS are increasingly creating online video series as well. I've written about soap-related online series L.A. Diaries and InTurn from CBS here in the past. The Times writes point out, "The issue of how to compensate talent for work distributed online is central to contentious contract talks with writers -- and could trigger the first major strike in Hollywood in nearly two decades."

For more on my previous posts about this industry struggle, and how it affects the development of transmedia storytelling, look here. I wrote, "These tensions are about very important industry issues that must be worked out, since the teams that produce and create the content for these projects should certainly be justly compensated. Yet, while I understand that this is a complex issue not easy to resolve, the continued delays and lack of leadership in working through these issues only mean that the reality of transmedia storytelling will have to lag behind these longstanding stubborn positions within the industry."

Again, I'm not convinced that Coastal Dreams will be an artistic or economic success, but it is yet another example of big media sticking their toe in the water to try and establish a market for bigger online video series productions. We'll see what happens...