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Bebo & Universal Music UK Partner on Revolutionary Online Drama


Label and artists act as backdrop in “The Secret World of Sam King”

New York, US and London, UK.– Bebo today announced the next generation of its online drama commissions, to be produced by Universal Music UK’s production arm Globe Productions in partnership with Monkey Kingdom and set amongst the real-life workings of the music company’s West London headquarters.

In a first between social network and music company, “The Secret World of Sam King” revolves around a junior ’facilities’ employee at Universal Music who secretly founds his own start-up label in the post room. Producers will draw on real-life experiences along with cameo appearances from Universal artists to bring additional authenticity to the setting and story.

The blurred line between fiction and reality has been designed to allow for unprecedented levels of interaction between the community and show. Bebo users will be called upon to actively participate and shape the creative output of the both the show and Sam’s label, appealing to prospective marketers, journalists, video producers, A&R scouts, sound engineers, stylist, designers and song writers alike.

Additional characters Katie (Sam’s love interest) and Johnny (Sam’s friend) will feature in spin-off programming formats “Katie’s Love-in” and a radio podcast respectively, providing a rounded digital music experience.

Bebo’s CEO Joanna Shields said, “This is a hugely exciting new commission for Bebo and a first between a social network and a music company. Both KateModern and Sofia’s Diary have demonstrated that Bebo has an active user base that is drawn to quality drama that they can interact with and share with their friends. We’re confident that the subject matter for The Secret World of Sam King and the opportunities for involvement will resonate well with our community.”

Universal Music UK’s Chairman & CEO David Joseph says, “The show is a compelling, quality drama that will mix a brilliant narrative with cameos from some of our major recording artists. The Secret World of Sam King will appeal to creative users with broad-ranging interests - all connected to music.”

Similarly to stablemates “KateModern” and “Sofia’s Diary”, financing for the project follows Bebo’s proven model of brand integration. Sony Ericsson is kicking off the series with the first three months of the show, so we can expect to see some clever references that integrate the brand or its other properties in to the show - whether it’s Sam blagging his way out to an Ibiza Rocks with Sony Ericsson gig or simply winding his boss up with mobile phone-related pranks.

Dave Hilton, Head of Marketing at Sony Ericsson, UK & Ireland states:“The Secret World of Sam King has set a new standard in programming and we look forward to working with Bebo and Universal Music to create unmissable content where our products will play a role in continuing the legacy of the show.”

Bebo’s vision for online media combines community, self-expression and entertainment to enable its users to consume, create, discover and share content through the dedicated channels on the Bebo website. Unlike its competitors, Bebo offers access to a line-up of high quality commissions such as the BAFTA-nominated KateModern and Sofia’s Diary (which recently became the first online drama in the UK to transfer to television when it was picked up by the UK’s Channel Five), alongside entertainment from professional broadcasters, independent producers and other rights owners and gives users a simple set of tools to curate their favourite online media content and communicate their tastes to everyone in their network.

As with its existing shows “KateModern,” “Sofia’s Diary” and “The Gap Year”, Bebo will also support cross-distribution of “The Secret Life of Sam King” across several AOL channels to expand the scale and reach of these shows across the combined networks.

Bebo has a membership of more than 42 million individuals worldwide and is geared towards an audience aged under 30, with the core of 16-24 year olds spending 2.14 billion minutes on the site per month.

* Source for metrics data in this release: comScore Media Metrix, April 2008, except for the Bebo user number, which is internal.


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