New Web series gets it right

Screenshot from NBC U's Gemini DivisionToday, NBC Universal launched a sci-fi serial web show starring Rosario Dawson called Gemini Division. While the show’s creatives may have some work to do to create a truly compelling oeuvre, they are off to a promising start for the future of Web-based television–not to mention an enjoyable return to the days of serial pulp fiction. Here’s what the producers did right:

1. Producers worked with brands to integrate into the content BEFORE the show was shot (read more thoughts on this in Notes from Lori in our August newsletter). The Wall Street Journal reports:

Electric Farm has secured deals with distributors NBC and Sony Pictures Television International. Through the Hollywood talent agency Creative Artists Agency, the project has the support of significant corporate sponsors — including Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and UPS — some of whom were written into Mr. Friedman’s script last fall.

Cameron Death, a vice president at NBC Universal Digital Studios, cites the sci-fi serial’s ability to integrate brands and serve as a platform for advertisers as one of the driving forces behind choosing “Division” to kick off its slate of original Web programming.

-They are not running 30 second ads before a 3 minute video; instead there are prominent banner ads for Intel and other advertisers (which while watching the first two episodes I took a good long gander at) and just a 15 second, minimally invasive opening ad.

-Although much of the writing is corny and the serial monologues via a smart video phone (with Microsoft Windows branding when the character turns the device on), the show is shot entirely in front of a green screen. This likely made the Webisodes much much cheaper (did I mention much?) to produce, and actually works for me as a viewer.

-The producers finally understood the concept of short content. The average length of the Webisodes are 3-6 minutes long and highly compelling for those of us in our cubes, looking for a little, ahem, distraction during the workday.

Overall, I give NBCU and Gemini producers a thumbs up. We look forward to the next episodes (I watched two today and may just return for more fun) and await curiously the audience metrics.