'Lonelygirl15' creators get cozy with CBS

EQAL inks deal for online, multiplatform content

CBS is making a date with the makers of "Lonelygirl15."

EQAL, the production company that created the Internet sensation, has closed a multifaceted deal with CBS that will either supplement existing Eye programs with online extensions or potentially yield new multiplatform programs.

The pact was announced Wednesday at CBS' upfront presentation in New York. One likely beneficiary of the pact is the "CSI" franchise; executive producer Anthony Zuiker told those in attendance at Carnegie Hall that his hit series would begin introducing daily webcasts in the fall as part of a "multimedia cyber experience."

The deal is a nonexclusive partnership that gives CBS a first look at any new concepts EQAL creates that could be utilized on a combination of TV, Internet and mobile. In addition, EQAL can either partner or consult with producers of CBS programs to help them build out online extensions to their series.

"This is a huge opportunity for us," EQAL CEO Miles Beckett said. "It's incredibly exciting how you can take existing TV, make it interactive and create communities around it."

CBS has made some modest investments internally in the past in original programming, including unscripted series for its short-lived Innertube site as well as scripted shortform comedies like "Clark and Michael." In EQAL, CBS turns to one of the few proven hitmakers online with the capability to take programming to viral levels. CBS, in turn, could maximize exposure for future EQAL creations.

Formerly known as LG15 Studios/Telegraph Ave. Prods., the firm renamed itself EQAL in April upon announcing a $5 million round of funding that included Spark Capital, former Mark Burnett Prods. manager and attorney Conrad Riggs and Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. In addition to "Lonelygirl15," EQAL scored a second time with another widely seen Internet series, "KateModern."

"We need people who can think of making this medium more involving and interactive," CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith said. "These guys have cracked the code."