2006 may be the year the Internet becomes a true alternative “broadcast” medium, between podcasts, online radio, streaming video popping up everywhere, and now, quite significantly, the announcement that reality TV guru Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender, Rock Star) signed a deal with AOL to produce an online series that will send viewers on a real-life treasure hunt in search of caches of gold stashed away throughout the United States.
Gold Rush will provide viewers with a regular series of short-form video clips which will contain “Extremely challenging” clues as to where stashes of gold has been buried or hidden across the country. Clues will also be placed throughout the AOL network on sites like AOL.com, Moviefone, AIM.com and Mapquest.com.
Burnett said, “I’ve been amazed by the volume of fans who constantly want to communicate online about each of [my] shows. They clearly want a lot more content than they can enjoy during one hour of television per week … With the volume of people able to watch content on their computers between 9am to 5pm, it could very well become the new primetime. The immediate future will take advantage of content that utilizes television, print and the Internet in concert.”
Burnett told Mediaweek that Gold Rush has been designed to tap into the audience that made hits out of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the film National Treasure. The series will lead users to 13 different caches of real gold over a six to seven week period, with the final cache being valued at $1 million. “The hope is to create a wildfire effect,” he said.
Not confining his eggs to one basket, Burnett also intends to launch another online series, The Runner, on Yahoo.com, where fans attempt to track down a fugitive across the country.