Friday, April 3, 2009

FIRST ONLINE WILDLIFE TV SERIES “EXTINCTION SUCKS” PREMIERES

Original six-part production aims to help save endangered species with expert help and guidance from the WWF

Environmental programming on “Our Earth”, one of network’s five main channels, hopes to instigate change, empower viewer


NEW YORK / LONDON (April 2nd, 2009) – “Extinction Sucks”, the first ever wildlife TV series produced especially for online viewing, debuts April 3rd on Babelgum Web and Mobile. Commissioned by Babelgum from Off the Fence Productions, with active involvement from WWF, the fast-paced show follows the real life capers of young Australian conservationists Aleisha Caruso and Ashleigh Young who are determined to present animal-protection issues in a fresh style aimed at engaging and empowering viewers. On Babelgum Mobile the series will be available in twenty-four 6 min. mobisodes; on Babelgum.com in six half-hour webisodes, published one every week. Off the Fence will be overseeing its distribution across a number of global television platforms. (http://www.babelgum.com/extinction-sucks)

In each episode, Aleisha and Ashleigh are challenged to find innovative and fun-filled, fund-raising stunts to help save an individual animal or an endangered species. This might entail taking a piece of much-needed equipment to a remote and underfunded conservation project, reintroducing a creature to the wild or releasing a rescued animal. More MTV than BBC, their “take charge, take action” approach involves good-hearted, off-the-wall schemes. The girls introduce us to everyone involved along the way, finally landing face to face with the animals they love and want to protect.

The six webisodes address the following subjects and destinations (in order): Asian Elephant (Mudamulai, India); Sea Turtle (Mapoon, Australia); Indian Rhino (Chitwan, Nepal); Asiatic Black Bear (Cat Tien, Vietnam); Tasmanian Devil (Tasmania, Australia) and Hector’s Dolphins (Akaroa, New Zealand).

WWF experts offered information and input on species and locations. "WWF is delighted to be a partner in this high-quality, full-length online production that will no doubt reach and engage a new audience,” states Martin Atkin, Director, External & Media Relations, WWF International. “’Extinction Sucks’ demonstrates that you can present serious environmental and conservation issues and have a bit of fun at the same time.”

Valerio Zingarelli, CEO, Babelgum, comments: “Extinction Sucks” is a series that tries not only to speak out on an issue, but also to propose concrete solutions: what each of us can do to really change things. You can watch and forget. Or you can act upon the problem by doing simple things that can change the course of life in the long term. This is the most significant point made in our new original series and it will be a constant motif in our future productions”.

“Our Earth” GM & Publisher, Laurence Billiet comments: “We are delighted with the response to “Our Earth” so far, and keen to build on the momentum that last week’s “Downstream” premiere has created by now launching “Extinction Sucks”. The show totally embodies the spirit of our nature & conservation channel: raising awareness for some of the world’s most endangered species andle to do something about it. It also makes conservation accessible.”

The show’s already-strong online presence includes supporting podcasts, a dedicated website, Facebook pages and background material. Fans and volunteers from around the globe are encouraged to join in and help “Extinction Sucks” raise more funds for vital wildlife projects.

The embeddable trailer for the first episode of “Extinction Sucks” can be accessed at http://babelgumwidgetkit.blogspot.com/2009/03/extinction-sucks-asian-elephants-viral.html

Babelgum entered the U.S. market last week with a redesigned Flash-based website and a mobile video application which has already proved very popular. After launching, the Babelgum application has maintained a steady position among the top 10 iTunes’ free “Entertainment” applications and in the top 25 across all applications in the US.

About Babelgum
A free-to-use integrated mobile and Internet TV service, Babelgum combines the full-screen video quality of traditional television with the interactive capabilities of the Internet, and offers innovative professionally produced programming on-demand to a global audience. Babelgum recently launched an original mobile application in the United States, UK and Italy, that brings regionally tailored programming to smart phones – at present iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, Nokia (N96, N95 and 6210) and G-Phones (1 and 2) – via 3G and WiFi.

Babelgum’s editorial focus is on music, comedy, film, urban culture, nature and the environment. The company has set up two online contests to nurture independent film and music talent: the Babelgum Online Film Festival, chaired by Spike Lee (now in its second year) and the Babelgum Music Video Awards, judged by acclaimed director Michel Gondry. Babelgum also launched a Digital Studio initiative producing new, exclusive and original content. Two productions have already been completed: Downstream, focusing on the controversy over the development of the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, and Extinction Sucks, a wildlife series on the subject of conservation and protection, with the active involvement of WWF.

Babelgum's content partners include, amongst others, EMI, Sony BMG, the Associated Press, PBS, BBC, VBS, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Shine Limited, Cinetic Rights Management, Content Republic, IndieFlix, Gong Anime, The Workbook Project, Cinelan, IMG and Off the Fence, as well as the Seattle, Encounters, Rushes, From Here To Awesome and Renderyard Film festivals. Babelgum is an independent and privately held company with offices in the United States, UK, Ireland, France and Italy.
www.babelgum.com

For further information contact:

Julie Du Brow, dubroWORKS PR
+1 310 921 2463
julie@dubroworks.com

Andrea Giannotti, Babelgum Media Relations Director
+44 7825 892 640
andrea.giannotti@babelgum.com

Martin Atkin, Director, External & Media Relations, WWF International
+41 79698 2985
matkin@wwfint.org

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