Virtual interaction strategy backs Falcon Beach

The second season of Global's Falcon Beach drew in more than a quarter million viewers across Canada on Jan. 5. But the net's not just hoping to draw in viewers in the Friday 8 pm time slot - they're hoping die-hard fans will interact with each other and the show's stars in a virtual online environment. No sponsors at yet, but the doors are open.

Global’s Falcon Beach is off to a strong on-air start in its second season, with major gains in its key female demos, and there’s a focus on interactive engagement between stars and fans in the strategy backing up the program. It’s almost as if the show, which has sold to more than 40 countries worldwide, is taking on a Second Life-like world of its own.

The Falcon Beach brand is now extended to an online virtual cottage community, a multi-player online game with a Second Life feel to it, hosted by the show’s re-vamped website. The 3D environment at gives users the ability to create and customize an avatar and live in the Falcon Beach world, renting cottages with Falcon Beach dollars earned inside the environment, chatting with and interacting with beach visitors around the world and characters from the show. The virtual cottage community conceived by Toronto-based A51 Integrated Marketing & Communications and Insight Productions Company. Advertisers are welcome to explore integration possibilities in the virtual world with A51, or to pursue more traditional banner ads and other opportunities directly with CanWest.

The Jan. 5 premiere of the Falcon Beach season two topped last year’s ratings in Toronto and Vancouver markets. The premiere pulled in 276,000 viewers nationally. Over last year’s seasonal average, season two’s first episode delivered growth for all of the show’s key demos: a 25% increase for adults 18-49; a 34% increase for women 18-34; a 44% increase for women 18-49, and a 10% increase for females 25-54. Season two’s second episode goes up against CTV’s Ghost Whisperer (which raked in 1,498,000 viewers during the Falcon Beach premiere), City’s Stargate SG-1, and CBC’s Royal Canadian Air Farce in the Friday 8 pm timeslot.

But Friday nights aren’t the only time slot relevant to Falcon Beach anymore. The online environment will begin hosting interactive sessions with actual stars (a different one each week) in the Thursday 4 pm to 6 pm after-school block, starting on Jan. 18. It’ll give the show’s demo a good reason to avoid CTV’s Oprah Winfrey at 4 pm and Dr. Phil at 5 pm. Whether the online interaction lasts through CBC’s 5 pm run of The Simpsons remains to be seen.