Dubbed the “Emmerdale Channel,” the new project will launch on Christmas Day, in association with a one-hour “Emmerdale” episode, in which one of the soap’s lead characters, Tom King, is murdered at his wedding reception. According to Hoodlum co-founder Tracey Robertson, the company was approached by ITV in July to create a concept for an interactive whodunnit for “Emmerdale”: “This was the opportunity we’ve been waiting for, the chance to create an online channel for a daily soap with a massive UK audience,” she told [itvt] by email. “‘Emmerdale’ has 7 million viewers per day, and screens six days a week.”
According to Hoodlum, the Emmerdale Channel is fully integrated with the TV show. At the end of each episode, the show will encourage viewers to visit the channel where, every night, new content will be uploaded. The channel will attempt to involve them in the whodunnit’s various storylines through gameplay and a competition to gather points: among other things, they will be able to listen to online “voicemails,” receive whodunnit-related emails, access secret broadband video content, play games and follow clue trails. They will also be able to become virtual “Emmerdalians,” moving to town and setting up their own cottage, Hoodlum says.
Hoodlum says it is working with the ”Emmerdale” production team and script producers to plot out and write the Emmerdale Channel storylines: the “Emmerdale” production team now has a dedicated crew who collect additional video and sound material for the interactive whodunnit while they are shooting each linear episode. “It is quite a complicated process,” Robertson said. “However, our learnings and the Content Delivery System we have refined through making ‘Fat Cow Motel’ and ‘PS Trixi’ means we are able to do this. We have the unique experience within Hoodlum of both serial TV drama and online media, which enables us to fully understand how TV production deadlines work and how to deliver online content.” Robertson also told [itvt] that Hoodlum has developed several innovative ways of integrating sponsor messages into the Emmerdale Channel’s gameplay and narrative, without compromising the “Emmerdale” brand. “I feel quite confident in saying that this has not been done before,” she said. “I’m sure that delivering daily narrative content to the extent we are doing with ‘Emmerdale’ is very new anywhere in the world.”
ITV’s and Hoodlum’s collaboration appears to have gotten off to a good start: in an endorsement forwarded to [itvt], Peter Mossman and Fiona Robertson, respectively head of production and head of commissioning for interactive and online at ITV’s Consumer Group, wrote: “ITV have worked with numerous external teams over the years, but very few have shown the level of professionalism and knowledge that Hoodlum have displayed on the creation of the Emmerdale channel. Their approach on each aspect of the project is creative and inspiring and has been instrumental in creating this new and exciting interactive direction for one of our biggest properties.”
“Emmerdale” fans who are interested in pre-registering for a reminder to participate in the Emmerdale Channel on Christmas day, can do so by going to http://www.itv.com/emmerdalemurder.