Mobile storytelling startup Unrd is making its first move into adapting existing intellectual property — specifically “Ghosted: Love Gone Missing,” an MTV reality series about ghosting (the dating practice, not anything supernatural).
Until now, Unrd (pronounced “unread”) has created original crime, horror and romance stories that are told through characters’ phones, through content like text messages, video footage and more.
Starting next week, on November 16, the app will feature a version of “Ghosted” that — unlike the TV show — is scripted, as users explore characters’ text messages, photos and video calls to discover why they’ve been ghosted. They’ll even get to vote on whether the characters should “ghost” or “make up” before they see the stories’ ending (their votes won’t affect the outcome).
MTV Head of Digital Rory Brown told me that this was a “very close collaboration” between MTV and the Unrd team, led by CEO Shib Hussain.
“This is the first time they’ve partnered with an already established IP — but that didn’t scare us at all, to be that first media partner that they worked with,” Brown said. “There was a strong point of view on our side of the house how to keep it true to the existed format, while the Unrd team helped us reimagine it, and our collaboration met in the middle of that Venn diagram.”
He also argued that while interactivity can be “a bit of a buzzword in the industry,” Unrd isn’t focusing on “interactivity for interactivity’s sake.” Instead, the aim is to create “a more immersive experience for the user.”
Unrd will feature three stories tied to “Ghosted,” each of them unfolding over six days.
“The key thing that we do different is this notion of real time,” Hussain said. “You can’t just binge it and consume every story in one day. You’ve got to wait with the character for the next message. That’s more immersive, and it also builds that tension and excitement amongst users as well.”
Brown noted that these Unrd stories are launching during a break in the second season of “Ghosted.” The hope is that they’ll keep existing fans engaged while creating new fans as well.
“At MTV, we’re always going to keep looking at ways to test the elasticity of IP,” he said. “I think Unrd is one way to do that. We’re talking to other partners, but Shib and his team have been fantastic to work with and we’d love to keep the relationship going.”