The nascent Internet-based video entertainment business is poised for its first big clash: Mark Burnett and AOL versus Yahoo and Steven Spielberg. Both sides have decided to launch online game shows, and coincidentally, both game shows feature treasure hunts. Burnett’s Gold Rush will compete with Spielberg’s (provided Spielberg remains attached) Treasure Hunt. But this may not be a case of the best game show winning.
There are suggestions that Burnett was aware of Yahoo’s plans, and, depending on how the players approach the game (shows), tensions could escalate. Or both parties could realize that treasure hunts are not that novel and decide the online eyeballs and the accompanying ads are more lucrative than litigation. Plus, if one factors in general human desire to get rich, it’s likely that both game shows will draw big audiences.
While narrative programming continues to be developed, the Burnett/AOL venture makes use of a variety of AOL-owned resources:
Burnett said Monday that his new Web offering would kick off with armored trucks delivering gold to secret hiding places across the U.S. AOL would pepper its websites and its services, such as instant messaging, with clues that players can use to find prizes. As is common with Burnett’s projects, he expects the show to include traditional ads and product placement deals.
We can expect a lot of old and new media coverage of the game show ventures as they grow closer to launch. In the meantime, Hollywood insiders will be paying close attention to the projects, if only for traditional reasons:
After years as the king of televised reality programming, Burnett said he was intrigued by the possibilities — and profits — that could come from expanding the definition of “prime time.”