All Sony hands on 'Afterworld'

Multiplatform rights for series

Taking a leap into the future on several levels, Sony Pictures Television International has signed a landmark agreement to exclusively acquire all international television, Internet, digital sell-through, gaming and mobile rights to "Afterworld," a futuristic animated episodic drama.

The multilayered deal marks SPTI's first acquisition of a project for exploitation across all of these platforms. For the first time, it involves SPTI's distribution, international networks and digital businesses working in tandem on one project.

The agreement is set to be unveiled today at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona by SPTI's Marie Jacobson, senior vp programming and production of international networks, and Keith LeGoy, executive vp distribution.

The series was created by Emmy-nominated producer Stan Rogow and well-known multiplatform writer Brent Friedman ("Mortal Kombat 2"). "Afterworld" also is a programming centerpiece of Bud.TV, Anheuser-Busch's new online entertainment network (HR 2/2).

"When this was brought to me last spring, we were thinking about our future in the multiplatform digital world," SPTI president of international networks Andy Kaplan said in an interview. "It was kismet that the project was brought to me at just that moment because it seemed perfect for what we hoped to do."

As part of the agreement, SPTI will acquire 130 two-minute episodes to be distributed across TV, Web and mobile outlets, creating a "tailor-made brand" for today's multiplatform consumer. The episodes will be made available as two-minute episodes as well as 13 half-hour episodes for traditional broadcasters.

"Afterworld" is about life on Earth after an inexplicable global event renders technology useless and 99% of the population missing. The story follows the adventures of Russell Shoemaker, who wakes up in New York after this event and is compelled to walk to Seattle in the faint hope that his wife and child have survived. He pieces together the complex mystery behind the global event while encountering survivors rebuilding society in strange, surprising ways.

Dedicated Web content will be housed at Afterworld.com, as will archived back episodes, daily journal entries, community blogs, interactive content applications and online games.

Said Jacobson, "This is an excellent opportunity for SPTI to cross stream content across our international mobile, digital and cable outlets and an ideal multiplatform offering for global and regional sponsors. … It's new for us because we are focusing all of our content production in one area, which allows us to concentrate all our efficiencies.

"Many opportunities come along with this from advertiser integration and from a versioning point of view," she added in an interview. "It's a global digital property that will roll out worldwide. It's complicated because we want to get this out virally to consumers and hook them on (the main character) and the journey he's taking, but we also (don't) want to give up too much because we are offering it to traditional broadcasters as well. It's not about finding the consumer who will watch this on TV or on a phone or online or play it on a game. We have the opportunity with this project to lock into different subsets of consumers — we are chasing an aggregate audience."

Added LeGoy in an interview: "It's exciting and it's groundbreaking because it's about multiplatform storytelling for a whole new generation of people who want to involved with content and the stories and with the characters. They want to have some control over how the stories develop and they want to have interaction with it. This is content that is being created from the get-go for these multiple platforms."
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