“Idol” creator launches “Dream” interactive venture

Simon Fuller, the creator of the multimillion dollar “American Idol” TV franchise, is betting on the Internet for his latest venture — a multimedia interactive reality show that debuts on video-viewing site Hulu.com on Tuesday.

“If I Can Dream” follows five aspiring artists bidding for stardom in Hollywood in what is billed as a groundbreaking marriage of social networking and the fast-growing market for television shows streamed on the Internet.

It will also be the first recurring show available to select international audiences on Hulu — the joint venture between NBC Universal, News Corp and Walt Disney that allows viewers to stream TV shows over the Web.

In what sounds like a cross between “Idol” and “Big Brother”, 30-minute weekly episodes on Hulu will track the triumphs and set-backs of two actresses, a musician, an actor and a model looking to break into show business.

Viewers will also get unedited access, 24/7, to their lives through 50 cameras in their shared Hollywood Hills house on the http://www.ificandream.com website. Fans also can interact with the five through texts, blogs, MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

As the five artists make it or break it, the public can choose new hopefuls who have auditioned via MySpace.

Fuller’s vision has won the backing of blue-chip business partners Pepsi and Ford Motors, although long-form standalone video on the Internet has yet to fully establish itself.

The toughest challenge will be promoting “If I Can Dream” in the crowded Hulu market, which saw more than one billion video streams in December, according to comScore.

A few days ahead of the launch, the “If I Can Dream” websites and videos had attracted only a handful of views. “If it’s not strongly promoted to a large core audience, it will be problematic, particularly if you have to get people to change their behavior,” said Jon Gibs, vice president of online media for Nielsen.



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