MSN ties up with LivePlanet for next gen online content

MUMBAI: Online content service provider MSN has announced an alliance with LivePlanet, a Los Angeles-based production company with the aim to bring a new generation of storytelling online.

The first show that will be launched under this recently announced MSN Originals initiative is LivePlanet‘s production Fan Club: Reality Baseball.

The upcoming show aims to move unscripted programming into the big leagues of new media with always-accessible content and interactivity that puts the MSN audience at the center of a unique entertainment experience.

Fan Club MSN says 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.

MSN director of business development Joe Michaels says, "We are going to hit one out of the park with Fan Club: Reality Baseball. 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 are 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."

LivePlanet CEO Larry Tanz says, "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.

"Fan Club will appeal to sports fans and non-sports 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."

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.

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