NBC revamps Digital Studio


Related: NBC nabs Rosario Dawson Web series

NBC Universal relaunched its Digital Studio on Thursday with a focus on branded entertainment and two series already in the works.

The studio is headed by its vp, Cameron Death, who was hired last year by Ben Silverman, co-chairman NBC Universal Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Death and his team report to Silverman and Vivi Zigler, executive vp digital entertainment and new media at NBC.

The two missions of the studio, Zigler said, are to provide an avenue for branded entertainment and to "find amazing talent." To those ends, the studio has named Omnicon Media Group Digital as its first strategic partner and has signed a deal with Electric Farm Entertainment to produce two shows.

"Gemini Division," a sci-fi series starring Rosario Dawson, is set to debut in the summer, while "Woke Up Dead" is a zombie comedy in preproduction. Both will be available on company Web sites, including NBC.com, and the network has the options to bring both to TV with Sony Pictures TV International holding the series' international rights.

Intel, Microsoft, UPS and Acura TSX have signed on as sponsors for "Gemini."

Zigler said the studio has been in the works since Silverman joined the network a little more than a year ago. One of the first conversations she had with him was about the future of digital entertainment.

"He really set the seeds for this," Zigler said. "He said, 'What if we put together people who understood digital? What if he started them off on this path?' "

The exact plan started to coalesce in November, when Death, formerly U.S. director of branded entertainment at MSN, got his start at the network. Silverman worked with Death at the portal through Reveille's partnership with MSN.

Although the NBC studio is entering a crowded online video market -- Disney and Warner Bros. already have their own digital studios -- Death said the high standard of quality combined with NBC Uni's distribution reach and an interactive approach will help the studio stand out.

"It's not just about the video," Death said. "It's about deep interactive experiences that gives consumers and viewers an option for what's next, after they consume the video."

Zigler said the studio would look to distribute its content to partially and fully-owned NBC Uni sites, including Hulu, and mobile destinations as well as sites that the company doesn't own.