SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — July 11, 2006 — Today is a big day for baseball fans: The All-Star Game is being played in Pittsburgh, and it’s opening day in cyberspace for “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” (http://fanclub.msn.com), MSN® Originals’ innovative new online interactive entertainment series starring the Schaumburg Flyers, a real professional minor league team based in a suburb of Chicago.
Before today’s launch of “Fan Club: Reality Baseball,” fantasy baseball and rotisserie leagues were the closest fans could come to owning a franchise and managing their own imaginary team. Now MSN, in collaboration with LivePlanet, the Los Angeles-based production company behind the three-time Emmy-nominated multiplatform series “Project Greenlight” for HBO and Bravo, ushers fantasy baseball into the digital age with rich and compelling, always-accessible content and interactivity that puts the MSN audience at the center of a unique entertainment experience tied to the fortunes of a real-life team.
America’s Favorite Pastime Reinvented
The “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” Web site (http://fanclub.msn.com) goes live today, so fans can join the Flyers in the dugout as they push to keep their playoff hopes alive for the second half of the season. Collaborating with MSN to make “Fan Club: Reality Baseball” a groundbreaking online entertainment experience is Schematic, an interactive agency that specializes in design, technology and marketing solutions for multiplatform initiatives. Schematic has enhanced the user experience by developing interactive features that will be rolled out in the coming weeks, giving MSN visitors a first-of-its-kind opportunity to run the team every game in the second half of the 2006 season.
Fans will be in charge of key managerial decisions, including these:
Selecting the team roster — who takes the field and who “rides the pine”
Determining the batting order — from “lead-off” and “clean up” to the “nine hole”
Choosing the pitching rotation — which ace starts and which reliever closes
Making off-the-field calls — everything from on-the-road roommate assignments to potential player trades and free agent pickups
All MSN votes will be reflected in what the Flyers do on the diamond and in the clubhouse, keeping fans wanting to come back daily to see how their choices affect the outcome of the team.
“Fan Club: Reality Baseball” online content also includes videos detailing the first half of the Flyers’ season, player profiles, game highlights and behind-the-scenes vignettes. Team players, family members and friends will blog on MSN Spaces, allowing fans to live with their ball club and learn about the dreams, demons, triumphs and difficulties of the players, coaches, wives, girlfriends and colorful clubhouse characters, on and off the playing field.
“MSN reaches a global audience of hundreds of millions of people that are passionate about great content,” said Rob Bennett, general manager of Entertainment and Video Services for MSN. “By delivering great original, interactive programming like ‘Fan Club: Reality Baseball,’ we are giving them an opportunity to participate and shape the content experience.”
“This is an incredible opportunity to bring a brand-new form of interactive storytelling to MSN’s many millions of users — a much larger audience than can typically be reached today on TV,” said Larry Tanz, CEO of LivePlanet. “‘Fan Club’ has something for everyone: the thrills of pro sports and the drama and humor of tangled human relationships. The close-up and personal view of baseball that MSN Originals provides in ‘Fan Club’ is better than a reality television series. Fans run the team and call the shots. It’s like they say in the great movie ‘Bull Durham’: baseball is full of magic and cosmic truth. ‘Fan Club: Reality Baseball’ puts that vivid world online and allows anyone with a PC to be a player.”
MSN: the place for Breakthrough Entertainment
“Fan Club: Reality Baseball” is an example of ways that MSN offers 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, as well as 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.
Information about MSN Originals can be found at http://originals.msn.com. Information about LivePlanet can be found at http://www.liveplanet.com. Information about Schematic can be found at http://www.schematic.com.
Schematic is a full-service interactive agency focused on improving the digital interfaces between companies and their customers. Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices in New York and Atlanta, the firm provides user experience, design, technology and marketing solutions for a wide array of platforms, including the Internet, interactive television, set-top boxes, game consoles and mobile devices.
Schematic’s clients include ABC, Accenture, Amp’d Mobile, AOL, BMW, CNN, Comcast, DIRECTV, Electronic Arts, ESPN, Fox, Hitachi, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, The NFL Network, Panasonic, Paul Mitchell, Pfizer, Showtime, Sony, Starz!, Target, Turner and Warner Bros. For more information, please visit www.schematic.com.
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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