|TOM Bannister, CEO of SXM Media|
In 2006 Samsung created a short film website called http://www.anyfilms.net/ and I saw it. At that time, my company was a short-film sales agency. We tried to sell them some of our short films, but instead they proposed us to produce short-films for them. So we developed some short films for Samsung. And from that we did some viral campaigns, one called Europe United. I developed a relationship with Samsung slowly from 2005 till 2009. In 2009, we pitched them for Fact Checkers Unit, season one. They came to America, we talked more about series, they liked it and we brought NBC as a partner. That was a beginning.
How do you adapt the content to different platforms: web, mobile? Do you use a different format?
It's the same format. Each episode lasts about 5 to 7 minutes, but each one is broadcast on tv as well. However, they are mainly created for the web and for mobiles. [...] The storytelling is perfect for a short format because each episode is an enclosed story. So you don't have to watch episode 1 in order to understand episode 10. That was one of appealing things for Samsung, that each episode was a separate film.
Each episode begins with a given fact that FCU has to check.
[...] Few people know that a magazine fact checker is a person that checks the articles. I think there are two things about this production. One is about a friendship, and the other is about two guys that have a boring job, but they make it interesting. I think a lot of people in real life know this situation: a job that might not be exiting. But FCU is about taking that job and making it exciting. So fact checkers go into the field and act like secret agents. It's all very silly, but they make life interesting and that's why people like this series. That's probably what the phones are all about: listening to music, watching videos, going on Facebook - all these things on your phone make life more interesting, your phone becomes entertaining.
Can we find additional content on social media?
FCU has a HULU page, YouTube page, Facebook and Twitter page. On each of those pages you will find the main content as well as additional materials: shots from the field, interviews with the actors. When we worked with NBC, there was a page on NBC.com, with MTV - a page on MTV.com. We are currently creating a FCU web TV, that will be ready next month.
What is the 3rd season of FCU about? Have you got a media partner?
The third season will be more about new media, social networks as Facebook and Twitter. No media partner this time.
[...] We try to do third season based on supernatural facts, like X File, but this idea has not yet been agreed on.
What is the audience of FCU?
The audience was initially technology geeks, between 18 and 30, slightly more men. We are looking to appeal to people who write about technology, technology bloggers.
The Galaxy Note is a creative device that has many drawing functions. Thus season 2 was dedicated to creative professions.
Season 1, with Galaxy Note was a little more mainstream audience.
Moreover, we have a global audience: in Asia, in the UK (big followers), in the US, Australia. It's a little more popular in English speaking countries because this comedy translates better if you are an English speaker, even if there are subtitles on them. However, it's a concept that people understand in any languages.
What is your business model?
Samsung underwrites the costs. That's why the product is integrated in it.
What are the statistics about this show ?
There are 9 million views: 4,5 million on You Tube and 4,5 million on MTV and it was just for season 2.
What is a next challenge for you?
The music web series with Viva. There is a web network live on You Tube that does music videos, so we are doing a pilot for them next month.
What I can wish you?