Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Second Life media frenzy

The media seems to have gone Second Life crazy over the last week or so. First there was Endemol announcing a virtual version of Big Brother to start on 1st December with 15 Second Life residents competing for a virtual island. Then German newspaper publisher Axel Springer announced the launch of a virtual tabloid, SL News, offering "snippets about showbusiness and human interest tales from the avatar world" and retailing at between 10 and 15 Linden dollars. Finally, Rivers Run Red announced the launch of a virtual TV station,, with content from Channel 4 (TV and radio), the Sci-Fi channel and even the great unwashed in the form of music, video and machinima.

It's easy to forget that dear old Auntie was one of the first out of the gate back in May when Radio 1 teamed up with Rivers Run Red to host a virtual version of it's One Big Weekend festival (real-life location: Dundee) on an island it's renting in Second Life. Sony BMG recently followed suit, pairing up with The Electric Sheep Company to host a Ben Folds virtual meet and greet on its 'Media Island'. The Electric Sheep Company also brokered Reuters recent entry into Second Life and facilitated the BBC's first foray in January as part of Newsnight's Geek Week.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Wikipedia has a rapidly-growing list of businesses and organisations which have operated in Second Life, which includes another couple of media heavyweights (MTV and Disney). It appears that Second Life is rapidly becoming a key place to extend your media brand. Not that all of these brand extensions are solely for the benefit of the residents of course. At the moment, a presence in Second Life is more of a brand statement than a viable distribution channel (much like the web was 10 years ago), guaranteeing a company a fair few column inches and possibly a bit of cool-by-proxy. This will change of course, as the Second Life population grows (it passed 1 million residents last month) and the possibilities of the medium become more apparent.

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