“Idol” follow-up is online and on radio


“American Idol” creator Simon Fuller has unveiled plans for his next big project, “If I Can Dream,” with nary a mention of broadcast television. Rather, the project will rely on Internet video streaming and radio – specifically, Hulu, MySpace and Clear Channel.

Plans for the global entertainment venture were announced by Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of CKX Inc. That public company (Nasdaq: CKXE) is headed by a name familiar to many in radio, Bob Sillerman.

Here’s how it will work:

If I Can Dream hopefuls will upload their videos to a customized page on MySpace, where fans will socialize content by sharing, commenting and interacting. “For years musicians, comedians, filmmakers, models and actors have come to MySpace to express themselves and to showcase their talents to a global community. Now we are giving them another incredible opportunity to do just that and looking forward to the talent that we know will emerge. We’re thrilled to be working with 19 Entertainment and all other involved partners on this project to bring If I Can Dream to a large audience,” said Angela Courtin, SVP of Marketing, Entertainment and Content at MySpace.

Hulu will stream an If I Can Dream TV episode each week exclusively via Hulu.com. Each program will include highlights from the week, stringing together the storylines from the past seven days into an easy to follow episode. It will be the first recurring show to be available to select international audiences via Hulu.
“Innovate is not a buzzword for Simon Fuller and 19 Entertainment. They’ve consistently delivered extremely high quality content in innovative ways, and helped to change how viewers engage with entertainment,” said Andy Forssell, SVP of Content and Distribution at Hulu. “That’s a great match with what Hulu is all about, and we’re excited and honored to partner with them on If I Can Dream as part of our mission to help people find and enjoy the world’s premium content, when, where and how they want it,” he added.

It is no coincidence that CKX also owns Elvis Presley Enterprises and Elvis’ rendition of his hit song “If I Can Dream” is featured in the preview video already posted on Hulu. An Elvis poster also appears as a young guitarist dreams of stardom.

How does radio fit in?

Clear Channel Radio will serve as a core partner in introducing the If I Can Dream cast to a national audience of over 100 million people on-air each week and to 30 million people on its digital properties monthly. Clear Channel’s local radio personalities and audience interaction will spur daily conversations, and through Clear Channel’s content creation and distribution platform, the If I Can Dream cast member stories will come to life on-air, online, and on mobile devices.

“19 Entertainment’s fresh approach to talent development will find fertile ground on Clear Channel’s stations and digital properties. Our highly engaged on-air and online communities will be the engines that drive ongoing interest in the cast. Together, we have the opportunity to completely change the paradigm and break new talent across multiple platforms simultaneously,” said Evan Harrison, EVP of Clear Channel Radio and president of the company’s digital group.

There will, of course, be advertising. PepsiCo and Ford Motor Company have signed on as “founding partners” for If I Can Dream.

“Pepsi was the first company to embrace this innovative concept and its unconventional approach to multiple platforms,” declared the announcement from 19 Entertainment. In keeping with the If I Can Dream spirit of young people refreshing their worlds, Pepsi’s Refresh Project will also enable people to submit ideas that will refresh their world and lead to positive change. Pepsi’s Refresh Project is a multi-million-dollar grant program that will launch in January.

“If I Can Dream is a groundbreaking interactive experience that represents our ongoing efforts to engage with consumers across a variety of platforms. If I Can Dream is one of many innovative ways the Pepsi Refresh Project will be featured in the digital space. Partnering with 19 Entertainment, Hulu, and MySpace ensures that this will be a multimedia project that will change the way people interact with programming,” said Frank Cooper, SVP and Chief Consumer Engagement Officer, Pepsi-Cola North American Beverages.  

Ford Motor Company will be partnering with If I Can Dream to create a new marketing initiative to pre-promote the launch of the 2011 North American Ford Fiesta. This will build on the Fiesta Movement program a social media initiative that generated over 675,000 flickr views and 5.5 million YouTube views.

“The Ford Fiesta already has the attention of socially vibrant consumers months before it goes on sale in North America next summer. So when 19 Entertainment approached us to cast the Fiesta in If I Can Dream, it seemed only natural. The role that 19 Entertainment and Ford has created for Fiesta is really exciting and will provide viewers a different look at the cast members through amazing technology and the Fiesta,” said Connie Fontaine, manager, Brand Content and Alliances at Ford Motor Company.

RBR-TVBR observation: Will “If I Can Dream” be the breakthrough event on the Internet that demonstrates how to make mega-bucks from a video content series that is exclusively online? Knowing Simon Fuller and Bob Sillerman, we would not want to bet against them.