Extending one of its more popular brands online, Disney/ABC Television Group on Thursday debuted an original online companion series to "Grey's Anatomy."
Sponsored by Italian food company Bertolli, "Seattle Grace: On Call" consists of six individual webisodes, each four-five minutes in length, as well as a behind-the-scenes "making of" episode.
Set primarily in Joe's Emerald City Bar, the hangout spot for doctors in the series, the series is shot in a documentary style and features familiar faces from "Grey's Anatomy."
"Our goal with the Web series is to expand the 'Grey's' universe by offering a unique perspective of the various happenings at Seattle Grace, while paralleling some of the same story lines seen on the show," said "Grey's Anatomy" creator and executive producer Shonda Rhimes. "The intent is to put everything fans love about Grey's into these short, 4-minute mini-episodes that have been designed solely for the Internet."
For networks and production companies, Web extensions are often used as a cost-effective way to strengthen core brands, and always hold the promise of viral success.
A pioneer in the space, NBC ran original webisodes to keep "The Office" on fans' minds during the summer of 2006.
Last month, following the season four premiere of "Dexter," Showtime began putting together a series of animated webisodes to accompany the series. "Dexter: Early Cuts" is a 12-part series consisting of four 1- to-2-minute chapters, focusing on how Dexter's killing techniques evolved throughout the course of his disturbed life.
Earlier this year, meanwhile, Bravo created a custom webisode series featuring past "Top Chef" contestants driving around Los Angeles in a Lexus RX SUV. The "Custom Reinvention Webisode Series" was part of larger multiplatform effort sponsored by Lexus.