Will Kiefer Sutherland Connect With Advertisers Online?

Jack Bauer fans, get excited — Kiefer Sutherland is starring in his first web series, The Confession, a 10-episode redemption story that will premiere on Hulu this March.

The Confession, created by Sutherland and writer/director Brad Mirman, features everyone’s favorite TV tough guy as a hit man and John Hurt (Harry Potter, V for Vendetta) as a priest hearing his confession on Christmas Eve. A brief teaser and interview with Sutherland are available on the show’s official Facebook account. In the interview, Sutherland says that this is the first project he’s ever been involved with from the very beginning.

The show was produced by DBG (Digital Broadcasting Group), a comScore-rated (s SCOR) top five ad network behind a range of celebrity-powered programming, including the Seth Green-produced interactive experiment Control TV and the Sunglass Hut-sponsored series Full Time Fabulous, hosted by Rachel Bilson.

But The Confession is the first deficit-financed production DBG has taken on; while CEO Chris Young would not say what the budget ultimately was, he did say that while it was “more than a typical web series,” he didn’t consider the project a financial risk.

In another first for the company, DBG is working with Hulu to sell ads around The Confession at premium CPMs. “We looked at a lot of partners, but really liked Hulu — they know the primetime TV audience really well,” Young said. DBG is also looking at game consoles as another distribution platform for the show.

DBG’s 2010 slate of content has wrapped, but 2011 is already in play, with half a dozen projects already in production that will launch in the first quarter of this year. That slate of programming will be announced at a “Clips and Cocktails” event in April, where eight shows out of the 20 currently being developed will be presented to advertisers. Just as with any broadcaster, advertisers will have the option to buy ads around one show, or across the whole network.

Young’s first moves in the online advertising space began with the startup Klipmart in 1999, which focused on repurposing TV ads for the web. The company sold to DoubleClick in 2006, and Young subsequently founded DBG in 2007. “Repurposing TV ads is great,” he said, “But I wanted to figure out how to cut through the clutter and create more engaging experiences.”

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