Hulu has acquired four projects, including two tween properties, from Toronto, Canada-based Smokebomb Entertainment in a deal that indicates the digital-content producer’s growing international success.
Dystopian 3D-enabled sci-fi series State of Syn (eight x five minutes) will debut January 28 and Katie Boland’s drama about the mishaps of 20-somethings Long Story, Short (11 x five minutes) will be available on February 15.The two tween properties — the adventure series Unlikely Heroes and musical comedy Totally Amp’d — will roll out over the next three months.
The shows are hitting interesting demographics: tweens, youths and adults under 34 years of age. Content quality is what made those shows attractive to Hulu, says Jay Bennett, VP digital and creative director of Smokebomb Entertainment, a digital division of Shaftesbury. But transmedia elements also likely worked in their favor.
“Three of those four properties come with digital extensions around them,” Bennett says. “I’m looking at these projects as a calling card for future creative concepts we’re trying to develop, finance and launch both here and in the US. For me, it’s not necessarily about these projects going in and driving all this revenue.”
Rather, the priority is for audiences to build and tie that content and that quality back to Smokebomb and its parent company Shaftesbury, he adds.
Unlikely Heroes (eight x five minutes), which is about a techno-nerd Wes Biggs stuck on a hike through the woods with his best friend and an assortment of oddballs, is complemented by an iOS companion app that features a puzzle-adventure game.
Totally Amp’d (10 x six minutes) tells the story of a group of musically talented teens who are brought together to become the next big pop group. A companion app also features interactive activities is available for all iOS-enabled mobile devices. Both series currently live on Canadian kidscaster YTV’s site, YTV.com.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to get American eyeballs to those shows but also drive them towards the second-screen app experiences,” Bennett says of the Hulu deal.