Fiver Channel Buys Sofia’s Diary – From Bebo Drama To TV

Now it gets interesting. Fiver (formerly the Five Life channel) has bought the TV broadcast rights to Bebo’s second online interactive drama Sofia’s Diary. The social net gained the option on the format – which began in Portugal in 2003 – and enlisted Sony (NYSE: SNE) Pictures Television International for the production. It’s part Lonelygirl15-style webcam confessional, part conventional drama – topped off with a blog, viewer comments and social profile embedding.

Bebo president Joanna Shields: “This news represents a milestone for television broadcasting. Fiver’s enthusiasm for Sofia’s Diary shows that it wants to play a role pioneering the next stage of entertainment. When we commissioned the show for Bebo, we believed that providing an entirely engaging experience, on multiple media platforms, was perfect for our key demographic of 16-24 year olds.” Like KateModern, Sofia’s Diary is funded not by ads but in-video brand placement. Weekly views after week two were 2.6 million.

The social media sites are turning in to budget drama power players, with Bebo having commissioned LG15 spin-off KateModern, Sofia’s Diary and The Gap Year. And they’re beginning to turn on their head the traditional TV rights deals – under which websites tended to get scrappy, non-exclusive rights after every man and his dog has optioned a series. Increasingly, it’s web first.

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MySpace TV’s US series <iQuarterlife was passed on to NBC for TV broadcast. In the UK, it yesterday premiered the first installment of Hammer Horror’s new movie Beyond The Rave. And the site is now seeking further TV distribution. But are these rights all they’re cracked up to be? Quarterlife was originally conceived for TV but struggled to get carriage, it’s unlikely Beyond The Rave would get a big-screen release anyway.