Cyberdramas delight Web surfers
September 2, 1996
Web posted at: 9 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Casey Wian
CULVER CITY, California (CNN) -- The Internet is finding a
characteristically interactive answer for the viewer appeal
of television soaps and sitcoms.
Dozens of so-called cyberdramas are unfolding on-line,
offering entertainment to Web surfers and a challenge to
television programmers and producers.
They're hip and hot, and unlike their television
counterparts, they can be seen anytime. Already, mainstream
TV producers are considering deals with these upstarts.
Take "Grape Jam," which went on-line last week in a splash of
brightly colored pages and silly puns on its name, such as
"Today's Spread" and the "Grapevine."
In a non-descript house, 15 people work on the project full-
time, producing a comedy Web site that includes live
improvisational performances, audio programs, a sitcom, games
and interaction between characters and the audience.
"We have the same audience as (NBC sitcom) "Friends,"
"Saturday Night Live," and of people who like films that are
mainstream," said Scott Zakarin, a partner in LightSpeed
"The difference is we're just changing the paradigm. We don't
have a 22-minute hole, we don't have a three-act structure.
We have a different structure that's being invented and is
being invented a lot by the audience."
Zakarin expects a daily audience of 25,000 Web surfers,
despite competition from more than 70 other so-called
cyberdramas, such as "The East Village."
(800K QuickTime movie)
The New York-based cyberdrama, with a dramatic black page and
white and yellow text, centers around a group of lower East
Side Generation-Xers. It's been on-line 1 1/2 years and
already claims a daily audience of 50,000.
"It really shows that our prediction that the Web would be
used for entertainment is really coming to fruition," said
Charles Platkin, President of Marinex Multimedia.
"Once the Web becomes a world-wide phenomenon, which it will,
the audience potential is way beyond what television is
Neither The East Village nor Grape Jam is profitable yet,
though both say that will happen soon. Revenue comes from
advertising, which for Grape Jam includes performance spots
Bigger paydays may be on the horizon from licensing deals and
Consumers will soon be able to surf the net on their home
television sets, so demand for unique technology-based
programming is expected to increase.
"You're instantly internationally recognizable because you're
all over the world," said Hope Adams, who plays "Eve" on The
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