Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Sky One to make not-for-TV series

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

For Broadcast May 17, 2007

Sky One has commissioned its first series not destined for its TV channel.

The 7 x 6-minute Abduct Me features tips on how to survive an alien abduction and was made by multiplatform producer Guerrilla. It marks the start of Sky commissioning standalone content for non-linear TV platforms.

The series, which stars FHM journalist Chris Bell, was made for L20,000 and will feature on Sky websites, behind the red button and on mobile phones the latter likely to be paid-for content. There will be a number of formats, including 10-second "out-take" clips, 90-second mobile phone versions and six-minute shorts for sky.com.

Abduct Me is the first of at least three non-linear TV commissions planned this year and Sky head of networked media Aidan Conway, who commissioned Abduct Me, said budgets could jump significantly.

"Abduct Me was a L20,000 project that isn't going to rock the indies," said Conway. "But we are looking for cleverness and innovation in the idea. There is L100,000 for a great idea in a non-linear TV piece, although it would have to be pretty stellar."

The series will launch in July as part of the start of the fourth series of sci-fi drama The 4400 on Sky One.

"If Abduct Me attracts people to watch The 4400 on Sky One or if we can deliver people from on air to our website or have them subscribe to an Abduct Me newsletter, that's all good," says Conway. "The idea behind all of this is that we're having a conversation with our viewers."

Sky has experimented with web-only programming before, including the L100,000 new media content created as a complement to Terry Pratchett's Hogfather, which aired on Sky One over Christmas.

The 12 x 5-minute video shorts The 12 Days of Hogswatch were offered on the web, mobile and behind the red button and received 862,000 views. Sky will continue to commission this kind of new media "extension" content around its conventional programmes.

Guerrilla has a five-year track record of making this kind of content for the likes of Yahoo! and FHM.com.

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