REDMOND, Wash. — June 15, 2006 — MSN today announced an alliance with LivePlanet, the Los Angeles-based production company behind the three-time Emmy-nominated multiplatform series “Project Greenlight” for HBO and Bravo. LivePlanet will produce “Fan Club: Reality Baseball,” the first content that will be launched under the recently announced MSN® Originals initiative to bring a new generation of storytelling online.
“Fan Club: Reality Baseball” moves unscripted programming into the big leagues of new media with rich and compelling, always-accessible content and interactivity that puts the MSN audience at the center of a unique entertainment experience. “Fan Club” gives fans control of the Schaumburg Flyers, a real professional minor league baseball team based in a suburb of Chicago. Each day, new online content will tell the stories of the Flyers’ players, giving the fans intimate knowledge of “their” ballclub, as well as the team’s coaches, wives, girlfriends and personalities, revealing their dreams, demons, triumphs and difficulties, on and off the playing field. MSN users will manage the team on a daily basis, voting to determine such key decisions as the batting lineup, fielding positions and pitching roster. Fantasy baseball meets reality TV in “Fan Club: Reality Baseball,” where the fans run the team and control the action.
“We’re going to hit one out of the park with ‘Fan Club: Reality Baseball,’” said Joe Michaels, director of business development for MSN. “We were a bit stunned at first that a professional baseball team would allow our audience to manage it, but we quickly realized that ‘Fan Club’ is a fabulous programming concept which is perfect for the Web. We’re thrilled to be working with LivePlanet because they are great storytellers who can deliver the drama and excitement behind the scenes of this professional sports team. ‘Fan Club’ is a great example of what we’re doing with MSN Originals: providing our audience with new and engaging entertainment experiences and opening up significant opportunities for advertisers.”
“This is ‘Bull Durham’ meets fantasy sports, and it’s all real. We expect ‘Fan Club’ to appeal to anyone who has ever yelled at their TV because they thought they could do a better job running the team — now the fans will have their chance,” said Larry Tanz, CEO of LivePlanet. “‘Fan Club’ will appeal to sports fans and nonsports fans alike with the type of behind-the-scenes, unscripted drama seen in shows like ‘Project Greenlight.’ Because MSN reaches hundreds of millions of users, the show will have access to a vastly larger audience than television. And the interactive features of MSN are the key to allowing fans to control their ballclub, something television can’t currently accomplish.”
Batter Up for Second Half of 2006 Season
The Northern League in which the Schaumburg Flyers play divides its season in half, with the winners of each half meeting in the playoffs. “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” is slated to go live in mid-July in time for MSN users to manage the team day to day for the full second half of the 2006 season, determining whether or not the Flyers will make the playoffs. “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” will be available at http://fanclub.msn.com/ beginning July 11.
This alliance is an example of how MSN is offering the best available entertainment value for its audience by providing exclusive content supported by advertising and made available free to users. Utilizing Microsoft® technology, “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” represents an evolution in participatory unscripted entertainment relying on audience involvement to determine numerous aspects of gameplay and strategy.
Advertising opportunities tied to “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” include display and streaming video plus sponsorship packages incorporating MSN media and in-content integration.
MSN Originals combines video, interactive community features and rich editorial content to create unique entertainment experiences that will be deeply integrated throughout the MSN network, including MSN Lifestyle, MSN Spaces and MSN Video.
LivePlanet develops and produces entertainment properties for traditional as well as digital media distribution platforms, with a focus on leveraging technology and integrating brands to tell compelling stories. Co-founded by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Sean Bailey and Chris Moore, LivePlanet, currently has projects in active stages of production and development in film, television, broadband and mobile distribution platforms, working with partners ranging from Microsoft, Amp’d Mobile, The Walt Disney Company, Viacom, Dimension Films and NBCUniversal.
About MSN Video
MSN Video is one of the largest video-only streaming services on the Web, watched by more than 11 million unique users per month. In addition to streaming news, entertainment and sports video clips from more than 45 content partners, MSN Video presents a broad array of live events to online audiences worldwide. More than 50 top advertisers support MSN Video, which is available to consumers at no charge. MSN Video is available on the Web at http://msnvideo.com to consumers in the U.S. MSN Video is also live in Australia, Canada and Japan, and in Spanish in the U.S.; the service also is in beta testing in the U.K.
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN attracts more than 465 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live™, a new set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. Windows Live is available at http://www.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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