Seven years after lonelygirl15 hit YouTube, Hollywood is launching new efforts to reach younger viewers online. But this time around, their efforts are splintering across social media sites. The latest, @SummerBreak, will reportedly unfold not on television but across Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube.
Variety reports that @SummerBreak, a new unscripted series from The Chernin Group, is now in production and will air this summer. The Chernin Group is led by Peter Chernin, who sits on Twitter's board of directors and is also an investor in Tumblr; the production company is behind Fox's New Girl and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. @SummerBreak will reportedly follow the lives of graduating high school seniors in the eight weeks before they begin college.
The latest in a series of Twitter TV experiments
Unlike a traditional half-hour or hourlong episodic show, Chernin's effort will comprise of "a series of tweets with photos and videos attached," according to Variety. It's the latest in a series of planned experiments with TV on Twitter that also include a Comedy Central comedy festival and a Fuse music series. Twitter is also reportedly in talks with Viacom and NBC to show TV clips (and associated ads) on Twitter cards.
The announcement comes on the heels of NBC's announcement yesterday of The Million Second Quiz, in which four contestants will compete against an army of online players who are trying to steal their spots. The show, which arrives this fall, will be streamed live 24 hours a day for the 12 days of the competition.
Arguably Twitter has already had its share of reality programming, from celebrities tweeting the mundane details of their lives to the unfolding tragedy at the Boston Marathon. At a time when the younger demographic is spending less time in front of the TV, @SummerBreak represents an effort to bring TV to the devices that have replaced it.
The question is whether viewers will follow a story deliberately fragmented across platforms. Twitter and television have proven to be a happy pairing, but to date social media has served primarily as a place to discuss shows they are already watching. Lonelygirl15, which initially concealed its fictional nature, generated tons of hype but petered out shortly after it was revealed to be scripted, and no YouTube series has become a mainstream hit. Newer social media platforms offer Hollywood appealing new audiences, but whether those viewers will chase content across their fast-moving streams on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram remains uncertain.