Transmedia Entertainment & Marketing

IBCoM: CM2052


Lyza Rammo 333305, Elisa van der Linden 356765, Daniel van Vliet 357005, Chloe Boekaar 358299


Lonelygirl15 – the business model



For this exercise we had to look at the startup of a Transmedia Franchise or an already established Transmedia franchise and critically evaluate their business model. For our research of a Transmedia Franchise we picked the Transmedia project Lonelygirl15.


Lonelygirl15 started as a normal youtube account for the viewers. A girl told her daily stories in front of a camera and this was done weekly. However, these episodes were staged and directed by a few professional directors with the aim to get an audience and market, focused on self-expression and sincerity (Christian, 2009). This so-called lonelygirl15 was Bree, which eventually was a 19-year old actress from New Zealand. The directors tried to trick watchers into thinking it was real, however, after a while, fans begon to notice some details, which made them question the realness of the lonelygirl15 (Rushfield & Hoffman, 2006). This resulted into many discussions between fans on discussion boards.


The Lonelygirl15 franchise was an extensive transmedia franchise that started off with a YouTube account but eventually generated a website, fan wiki’s, spin off, merchandise and even an alternate reality game. From our first observations we can truly say this Transmedia Business

model was a good one. It generated a lot of views, revenue and attention on a worldwide basis. However, how did they exactly do this and can we discover a typical Trans media business model in this example?


When looking at the business model we can state that it was quite successful regarding this project lonelygirl15 with the producers raising over 3,5 million US dollars, which they further used in their software company (Wauters, 2011). The project lonelygirl15 was a low cost production, so it did not need a lot of funding. The project recruited a lot of viewers since it was the second most viewed youtube channel (Greening & Knight, 2011). Besides that, the involvement with the audience was really high since viewers could communicate with lonelygirl15 on myspace (Greening & Knight, 2011). Also, many viewers gathered on the message boards to discuss clues in the series and to find out who lonelygirl15 really was (Greening & Knight, 2011).


When looking at the financial aspect, lonelygirl15 helped binding the viewers to targeting brands and that the project had an advertising nature (Greening & Knight, 2011). For example, lonelygirl15 was the first internet series that introduced product placement (Dena, Fingleton & Wilson, 2008). There was an idea for building the franchise even further and to produce a movie (Greening & Knight, 2011). However, after revealing that lonelygirl15 truly was a hoax, many viewers lost interest and some even abandoned the youtube channel (Greening & Knight, 2011). But, when the creators posted a statement on the website concerning lonelygirl15 and that she is a reflection of everyone, real or not, the opinion of viewers changed again (Christian, 2009).  The viewership began to increase again and one year and a half after the show went public, the creators received money to produce even more shows beyond lonelygirl15 and the spin off, Katemodern (Christian, 2009). However, this spin-off included more product integration and sponsorship deals and the spin-off ended in 2007 (Wei, 2010).

To conclude, the lonelygirl15 project was pretty successful, had a lot of active viewers and gained a lot of media attention. Especially for the creators, the project turned out to be a very succesful.







Christian, A. J. (2009). Real vlogs: The rules and meanings of online personal videos. First Monday, 14 (11). Retrieved from

Dena, F., Fingleton, T., & Wilson, J. (2008). The Writer’s Guide to making a digital living: choose your own adventure. Sydney, Australia Council of the Arts.

Greening, B., & Knight, K. (2011). Authenticity, marketing, and viral YouTube videos. Retrieved from

Rushfield, R., & Hoffman, C. (2006, september 8). Mystery fuels huge popularity of web’s Lonelygirl15. The Los Angeles times. Retrieved from

Wauters, R. (2011, may 23). Lonelygirl15 Creators file to raise 3,5 million for web series. TechCrunch. Retrieved from:

Wei, W. (2010, july 10). ‘Loneygirl15’ Turned web series into a multi-million dollar company. Businessinsider. Retrieved from:


4 comments on “Lonelygirl15

  1. group 6
    October 19, 2012

    Hey guys,

    Very interesting project, like the other groups we have never heard of it. I think you can take certain aspects and elaborate on those for your own project, since you are also targeting the younger generation. Maybe you could make staged episodes as well, featuring people talking about the parties, or simply posting blurry party videos. We think youtube is a great way to create a buzz around your project!

    Good luck!

  2. Transmedia Group 9
    October 19, 2012

    Dear Lyza, Elisa, Daniel and Chloe,

    this is the first time we hear about Lonelygirl15. What we found very interesting is how the business managed to maintain its fan base by simply posting a statement after the reveal of their hoax.
    However, we were wondering how you want to link this transmedia business to your own project, seeing that we believe you were focusing on movies. Are you perhaps thinking of using a youtube channel as your main extensions, because here it showed that be a great succes?

    Good luck with your project!
    Group 9

  3. Transmedia Group 10
    October 19, 2012

    Lonelygirl15 is an interesting idea that owns potential for extensions. It started with the youtube channel that could reach viewers worldwide and gain the fan base as the start up of a transmedia business plan. However, the challenge for them, as mentioned in your post, is maintaining the freshness of the story and deepen the engagement. This is not easy for every brand and that’s why companies have to keep renovating their Marketing and advertising strategy. Lonelygirl15 literally has to think more about the marketing strategy that fulfill the target audiences’ needs.

    Good luck with yours ongoing!
    Group 10

  4. ibcomtransmedia2012
    October 19, 2012

    Group 5:
    Hey guys!
    We thought that you indeed selected an interesting case. We have never heard about it before, but was quite cool to hear that it started from YouTube as well as the first Internet-based series that introduces product placement. Also, it was quite interesting to hear how viewers changed their opinion about Lonelygirl15.

    However, we would also like to ask how you will use this case for your own. But maybe we will hear that more when you will be done with part 3?

    / Regards group 5

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