Bebo has 'Lonelygirl' date

Net series will feature interactivity

Social networking Internet venture Bebo is launching its first global Internet programming venture, "Lonelygirl Presents … KateModern," based on the Lonelygirl 15 character that gained 50 million viewers on YouTube.

Bebo has joined with the "Lonelygirl15" creators Miles Beckett, Greg Goodfried and Mesh Flinders to create a unique, original interactive programming concept that will launch within the social networking hub, allowing Bebo users exclusive updates to the plot lines as well as the ability to interact with the character, Bebo president of international Joanna Shields said.

With 31 million viewers worldwide averaging 41 minutes usage a day, audiences for the new interactive project could well exceed the numbers that tune in to cable in the U.S. and U.K., Shields added.

"This is truly a native social media entertainment form and fits perfectly within the Bebo experience," she said. "These characters become part of Bebo in a viral, multilayered way that has never been done before," she said, noting that 16- to 24-year-olds were moving away from TV and looking for more innovative programming.

The project will go live in July, airing multiple episodes per week exclusively on Bebo. Users in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand will gain first access to new episodes, which will be released later on and other Web sites.

"KateModern" will expand from the original "Lonelygirl15" story line to that of a teen university student in London who struggles to balance her social life with the dark forces that shadow her.

Characters in the drama can be tagged as "friends," so any changes to their sites will trigger updates to interested users. They also will send and respond to e-mails, while Bebo fans can message the characters, solve puzzles, create their own videos and interact with other members of the fan community.

"It's a far more immersive experience than conventional TV. Their input will actually influence the show and in a very real way they will become part of the 'KateModern' experience," Shields said.