FearNet Scares Up Fan Input


Taking a cue from its fan base, FearNet, Comcast’s on-demand horror channel, has revamped its Web site with user-generated content that not only includes videos but also poetry, photos, artwork and stories.

Horror fans had already been sending a wide variety of content — apart from videos — to FearNet’s Web site, according to Diane Robina, president of the on-demand video and online service. She wanted to tap into their creativity beyond just allowing them to post their own video clips.

“We were starting to get the stuff organically,” Robina said. “People were sending us billboards, and stories and poems.”

Last week, FearNet also announced that its site will become the exclusive home of Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV director Darren Lynn Bousman’s message blog. He is writing it from the set of Twisted Pictures’ Saw IV.

The FearNet site is now allowing users to upload user-generated content, to produce galleries of individual material, and to create and manage custom video play lists. The FearNet site itself has more than 300 short-form videos, 10 free streaming movies, interactive community features and original content. It boasts the largest registered online horror community, with more than 50,000 registered users, according to Comcast officials.

The new community features for FearNet, which launched last Halloween, give users the capability to: upload videos, audio files, photos and written material and search, sort, rate and comment on this content; create their own galleries to showcase individual content, with FearNet also creating custom galleries for special events and themes; gain access to, and comment on Bousman’s news and updates on his current projects like Saw IV; use an integrated video player, now available as a full screen, which allows fans to watch a film and simultaneously read about its cast and crew and chat or to the community; and create and manage custom video play lists and search for videos with enhanced search capabilities.

Referring to the changes, Robina said: “We wanted to give the user lots of different ways to communicate with us, and with each other. When you post a video or post a story or photo, people can comment on that, and they’ll chat together as well.”

In a few months, FearNet users will also have the ability to do mash-ups, according to Robina. Noting that one of FearNet’s partners is a movie studio, Lionsgate, Robina said that Web site could put up some videos and say, “Here’s Saw III, so make us a new trailer, and legally.”

A joint venture of Comcast, Sony Pictures Television and Lionsgate, FearNet has also been working with Comcast Interactive Media’s user-generated Web site Ziddio.

For example, with “Urban Legends Redux,” contestants are being asked to send in videos on their favorite urban legends, which are posted on the Ziddio site, according to Robina, because FearNet previously lacked the capability to take downloaded videos.

The prize in that contest is a walk-on appearance in a Lionsgate film, Robina said, adding that FearNet will be posting some of those urban-legends videos.