New Reality Show to Skip TV, Play Entirely on Social Media
By Andrew Wallenstein for Variety
Who says a reality show has to air on TV?
The Chernin Group is producing an audacious new unscripted series that will be distributed entirely on social-media platforms instead of having a home on TV, according to sources familiar with the production.
The series, entitled “@SummerBreak,” will play out largely on four platforms: Twitter, where Peter Chernin sits on the board of directors, and Tumblr, where he is among the investors, as well as YouTube and Instagram. Production has just begun and the launch is anticipated this summer with AT&T on board as sole sponsor and financial backer.
A rep for Chernin Group declined comment.
“@SummerBreak” follows a group of real-life graduating seniors culled from high schools in the Westside area of Los Angeles for eight weeks before they depart for college and elsewhere. Instead of the traditional 30- or 60-minute episodic format, the series will play out 24/7 as a series of tweets with photos and videos attached.
“@SummerBreak” may be the most telling sign yet of Twitter’s interest in combining its strength in social media with establishing itself as a video distribution platform. In addition to its recent foray into a six-second video outlet dubbed Vine, the company is reportedly engaging the media conglomerates in licensing content akin to YouTube and Hulu.
Viacom-owned Comedy Central plans a comedy festival on the platform later this month. Another cable network, Fuse, recently pacted with sponsor Trident for a Twitter-only series as well.
With TV networks skewing increasingly old, the point of the concept is to target younger viewers on the devices on which they spend most time. Whether they will adapt to a narrative threaded across multiple platforms sans traditional time slots remains to be seen.
A key advantage of the innovative format is that erasing the multi-month lag between production and distribution allows the producers to adjust the series in real time based on audience data demonstrating which characters are drawing the most interest.
Concept is not foreign to teens and young adults who keep track of the lives of internet celebs and their favorite reality stars via social media. Typically, however, casts of reality programs are engaging with social media after the production of a show ends, live-tweeting episodes and responding to viewers in real time during a broadcast.
“@SummerBreak” strives to break down that final wall, however, by allowing the storylines themselves to unfold via social media.
Format also deepens the audience experience, as they are able to explore numerous social media platforms to discern character development, storylines between the teens and the inception and destruction of relationships — something that most teens and young adults are adept at doing in their personal social lives already.