jPod makes play for online eyeballs

Based on Douglas Coupland's novel, the new CBC series arrives with support from a broader 'universe' of links to auctions, games and a fictitious Vancouver company looking for a bigger bang for its promo buck.

When jPod premieres on Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 9 pm, it will open a door to what’s being billed as a broader ‘universe’ – a web-based marketing strategy designed to attract audiences to the 13×60 CBC series.

‘This is not a single website, it’s multiple sites that act as an extension of the show,’ says Elizabeth Levine, the show’s new media producer. ‘We’re creating a whole network of experiences, but everything is related to jPod. [Author] Doug Coupland’s story lines and characters are perfect for this venue, where they’ll move freely through a vast array of multiple dynamic websites and take on a life of their own outside of the series.’

One of those sites is the Internet giant eBay. jPod is the first TV or film production to hook into the auction house’s new application – eBay Neighborhoods – through which users can buy objects related to the show, such as vinyl action figures, funky sneakers, gaming hardware and hydroponics paraphernalia. The series, based on the Coupland novel of the same name, features a team of videogame designers who spend a lot of time and money online.

Other online features, available through, include the corporate website of Neotronic Arts, the show’s fictitious gaming company, the online videogames Defendoid and Xpod and a blog by jPod‘s resident ladies man, Cowboy, recounting his intimate Internet encounters as they unfold.

What does that have to do with the success of the TV show? According to Levine, it’s all about getting a bigger bang for the promo buck and hooking ‘cross eyeballs. This can be done without much money. You can spend one million and get one website – now take that one million, link it to five or seven groups and see how far it goes.’

Levine says that with this approach, ‘It’s easier to do more, and go farther, with in-kind dollars. With access and links to so many platforms, just think how many people you can accidentally reach and bring to the program. It’s only once you have attracted the eyeballs that it’s worth monetizing. You have to prove you have something of value.’

From Playback Daily