October 26, 1995
Web posted at: 1:20 a.m. EDT
From Entertainment Correspondent Dennis Michael
(CNN) -- Using a still camera, it's a shoot day for the soap opera "The Spot." Its story line is much like its ancestors, such as "The Real World" and "Melrose Place." But instead of having a Beverly Hills zip code, this soap opera's home is an Internet address. It runs on the World Wide Web.
With a simple click of the mouse, viewers can follow each character's adventures chronologically. The soap has been up and running since June. And every day, an average of 150,000 people surf the site. "The Spot" is owned by Fattel and Collins. Company president Russ Collins says its target audience is made up of Generation X Web surfers.
"The story itself revolves around six or seven kids who live in a beach house in Santa Monica," Collins says. "And this is one of the beauties of this interactive medium: We really have the opportunity to view their lives through their own eyes."(228K AIFF sound or 228K WAV sound)
But "The Spot" is more than just entertainment on the Web. It is seen as the anchor for a proposed American Cybercast Network. It will be a multimedia outlet available only on the information superhighway.
By the time American Cybercast gets up and running, it will have some competition to deal with. NETwork is just one of several Internet series that's planning to get on the Web. Six offerings are planned, with the first one titled "Whodunit."
Company co-founder Dean Vallas says Internet demographics are one reason they're so eager to get on-line.
"The most interesting demographic that's watched television for the last fifty years has already abandoned network television," Vallas says. "They don't watch it anymore, they spend their leisure hours surfing the Net."
That theory is exactly what West Coast Website provider Digital Planet is banking on. It's creating a nine-week action program continuing the story of an interactive computer game called "Burn: Cycle."
So why are so many people jumping on the Internet series bandwagon? Besides good demographics, the concept just makes economic sense Each of these programs costs a small fraction of what it takes to make television show. And though none of the Internet programs have advertising incomes, program providers are optimistic.
"It's like radio," says Digital Planet president Thomas Lakeman. "If it's free, then people will get excited about it. Then you can always hit them up for money later on, when they're hooked." (165K AIFF sound or 165K WAV sound)
In truth, profitable programming on the Internet is not far off. A.C. Nielsen, the same outfit that rates TV shows, is already creating a ratings system to accurately count the Internet audience. The system will include specific and detailed demographic information.
With that, another competitor to traditional network television could be in the early stages of wiring itself up.
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