To date, the tension between television and online video can be largely characterized by one adage: Divide and conquer.
Broadcasters affirm television’s strength amid declining viewership and advertisement revenue, while online seems to constantly increase its audience, but struggles to find a way to turn those eyes into income.
But the new faction of Harper’s Island and Harper’s Globe is trying to put that polarity out to pasture, instead considering the battling platforms as separate but equal.
Harper’s Island is the 13-week modern murder mystery, following 25 characters that surround a wedding and reunion on the eponymous island. Week by week, one or more characters are killed off the primetime soap-like show, leading to discovery of the murderer by the show’s conclusion.
It’s supplemented with Harper’s Globe, the online “webisode” and social network named for the island newspaper. The online content is different, largely filmed in confessional-style and supported by blogs and interaction by Robin, the new-to-the-island journalist.
“Before Robin came onto the site, viewers were already on there, creating their own profile pages, forming a community and getting to know each other,” said Melanie Merkosky, the Calgary actress that plays Robin.
The foray into online video is nothing new for Merkosky, who now calls herself an “online junkie.” Before Harper’s Globe, she was a leading character on YouTube viral video sensation, lonelygirl15.
“I do think entertainment is headed towards the Internet and people are now starting to look at it as a viable entertainment platform,” said Merkosky. While she didn’t set out to solely act online, she said the intrigue of lonelygirl15 drew her to her subsequent online incarnation. “I was just more intrigued by the idea of both of them.”
Unlike lonelygirl15, however, the Harper hybrid must balance the pair of mediums for their respective audiences. While content may be different, Merkosky said the two stories are completely connected.
“The plot lines overlap, the characters criss-cross and it’s really bringing two different audiences together. If you’re going to start moving toward the trend of doing online programming, I think this is the best way to go because it’s still directly related and intertwined with the TV program.”
Correlation aside, Merkosky admitted online continues to have a content advantage over television, carrying fewer restrictions than the regulated tube.
“We were allowed to show more and do scarier things than you would see on network TV. There is definitely a campy element to it, like Scream, but it’s a lot scarier.”
• Harper’s Island begins airing Thursday on Global TV.
On the web
• www.youtube.com/user/lonelygirl15" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>
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