HBO Goes Offline to Market Online Series to Teens

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HBO launched its first Web-only series yesterday, without the aid of online advertising or marketing.


Instead, the cable channel's "Deadwood Mysteries" on HBOFamily.com has been marketed offline via trailers on the HBO Family Channel and articles in TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly and other publications.


The 16-week series, targeted to adolescents and teens, is streamed via QuickTime and RealNetworks' RealPlayer. The series follows the story of a 16-year-old girl who has vanished. Three of her best friends create a Web site to help uncover the mystery of her disappearance and the legend surrounding other missing teens in the area since the 1800s.


Much more interactive than HBO.com's online offerings for programs such as "Sex and The City," HBO touts the new series as a way for "young people to assume active roles and become part of the investigation by examining and collecting evidence, checking out leads, questioning theories, sharing ideas as well as gathering additional clues from weekly ... trailers."


"Pre-teens and teens ... know how to surf the Net and design their own Web sites, so we knew we would have to challenge them with a positive, creative and interactive site that has original and cutting-edge components," said Dolores Morris, vice president of HBO Family.


Supporting material for the show includes weekly open journals, updates on the case and e-mails from the missing girl's sister and friends; background checks on local residents; local newspaper articles and sheriff's reports; FBI files on the fictional case; and The Book of Truths, which provides riddles and clues about the case.


More interactive options include a bulletin board, "Your Theories," where fans can share ideas and questions, and chats with the main characters.


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