Meet the Company Exploring the Dark Net for Showtime's New Docuseries
'Dark Net' will explore topics including cyber-kidnapping, porn addiction, biohacking and more.
Showtime's new docuseries, Dark Net, seeks to shine a light on the stories swirling around the unindexed corners of the Internet.
The company digging around the dark web to surface these stories is Vocativ, a two-year-old digital news organization that uses technology to harvest and analyze data from across the Internet. Vocativ uses that data to shape stories aimed at millennials and distributes them across social networks. The company says that it currently has 100 million monthly video views.
Dark Net represents Vocativ's first push into traditional length content, and the move comes as the company has staffed up with a number of television and news veterans, hiring NBC News' Gregory Gittrich as head of content and appointing former NPR CEO Vivian Schiller to chair its executive committee.
With the Jan. 21 premiere of Dark Net, Vocativ is launching a film division dedicated to producing longer form content. Founder Mati Kochavi tells The Hollywood Reporter that Vocativ will expand into documentaries and feature films. He teases that he has already struck deals for two other projects. Vocativ Films will build upon the company's past efforts in the space, including a series of short stories that aired on MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily in 2014.
"We're making major investments," says Kochavi. "We're investing heavily into new verticals such as sports, culture, fashion and music. We're going to do some very aggressive things on our platform and are planning to be an entity and player in the media business."
Showtime picked up eight episodes of Dark Net in November with plans for each half-hour to explore a different theme, from the webcam sex trade to online cults. Kochavi says that each episode will feature three different stories based on those topics and will focus on the characters that can bring these stories to life.
Most of Vocativ's material comes from the 90 percent of Internet traffic that isn't indexed by search engines like Google, according to Kochavi. He describes these hidden parts of the Internet as "the unconscious of human behavior." But he notes that the best stories are those that have risen to the surface and started to permeate culture.
"We were looking at stories that already traveled from the dark net into the surface of life and the physical world," he says, adding that he expects viewers to see themselves in the show. "Each one of us is going to have a good chance of saying, 'Wow, I could have been there or that could have happened to me.'"
Dark Net, which was created by Kochavi, is being executive produced by Danna Rabin and Schiller for Vocativ and David Shadrack Smith for part2 pictures.