17 November 2007

Online drama proves a lucrative hit

They cost thousands, are watched by millions and attract big sponsors. No wonder social network Bebo is about to launch its third reality drama. A new reality series from Big Brother producer Endemol follows the fortunes of six young people as they travel the world - but you won't find it on BBC 3 or Channel 4. The Gap Year is online social network Bebo's third original content commission in six months; part of a bold strategy raising eyebrows among programme-makers and broadcasters. While TV-style content is widely available on social network sites such as MySpace and YouTube, it generally falls into one of three types: user-generated content, existing broadcast TV content, or brand content created for advertisers. However Bebo - with 10.7 million regular users in the UK alone, according to latest research from HitWise - is developing a portfolio of video-based, original content.