Short-form web drama series The Horizon strikes deal with DNA

By Wenlei Ma | 16 August 2013

The next series of short-form web drama The Horizon will be exclusive to DNA magazine's website for the first week in a deal struck yesterday as creator Boaz Stark looks to get brands on board with his vision.

Starks is in the middle of shooting the third and fourth series of The Horizon, a drama centred around a group of gay men in Sydney. The first two series consisted of four to eight-minute episodes and have collectively attracted more than eight million views. One episode racked up more than three million views.

Yesterday, Stark struck a deal with DNA magazine which will host and promote new episodes of The Horizon to its one and half million monthly unique visitors on its website. DNA will carry new episodes for a week exclusively before it's uploaded to YouTube.

Stark has also signed a raft of sponsors for the next two series including Ben Sherman, General Pants Co and Aussiebum who joins HIV/AIDs support organisation ACON, Glyde Health, Sydney Star Observer and House of Priscilla.

The sponsors are integrated within the series in so far as providing clothing worn by the characters or other organic means. Stark stressed it's natural. He said: “[The sponsors] don't want it to be very advertising-y. They want it to be natural and not too obvious”.

Sponsors are also featured in across The Horizon's website, the episodes' end credits and are sometimes written into the video title on YouTube or placed before the title card.

But Stark said despite the success of the series, it's not yet a viable business. The sponsorship dollars only cover the cost of production so far and most of his crew and cast work for reduced rates.

His ambition is to turn it the format, short-form drama web series, into partnerships with brands. Stark, who has 28 years of experience in TV, is putting his hand up to produce any short-form drama web series for the cost of the production of a TV ad. “But instead of getting a 30-second ad, I can do a whole short-form web drama for the same cost,” he added.

“Traditional TV is dying, everyone is downloading things. Short-form web dramas are still new. There's a lot of comedy or reality around but actual drama is very new, especially in Australia where the market is small. It's so easy to watch, and it's the gift that keeps on giving.” he said.

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