In a rare sharing of its original content, HBO will offer its four-part Alzheimer’s Project to various online video services in an effort to provide greater exposure for the series.
YouTube, iTunes, MySpace and Facebook will all offer portions of the four-part series, which runs on HBO over four consecutive nights beginning May 10, as well as 15 supplemental films surrounding the series, according to HBO documentary films president Sheila Nevins. The two-year project takes a close look at the effects of Alzheimer’s disease on those that suffer from it and their families, as well as scientific discoveries and ongoing efforts to fight the disease.
“We do certain public-service programs that are of value to those that are and are not HBO subscribers,” she said. “It’s a corporate outreach effort dealing with subjects that we feel have been underserved by the media, including cancer and addiction. We felt Alzheimer’s was perfect for a public service outreach campaign.”
As part of its outreach effort, HBO will make the full series and supplemental shorts available on HBO.com, beginning May 8. The videos will be made sharable and can be embedded for anyone who wants to post on their own Web sites.
HBO on Demand will also make the entire series and supplemental films available beginning May 8, the network said.
Outside of HBO, Apple’s iTunes Store on May 8 will offer an exclusive preview of the first feature film, The Memory Loss Tapes on May 8, with subsequent films available starting May 11. The same day, an exclusive preview of the second of the four films, Grandpa Do You Know Who I Am, will run on HBO’s YouTube site.
MySpace will run trailers and clips from the project on its MySpace Impact channel beginning May 8, part of its Alzheimer’s Awareness Week presentation. In addition, MySpace will run an exclusive preview of the third film in the series, Momentum in Science, on its Myspace page (www.myspace.com/HBO), according to the network.
Facebook will offer a dedicated page to the project featuring an exclusive preview of Caregivers, the last of the four films. The social networking site was slated to launch a Tribute Wall May 1 that would accept user-generated photos and memories of loved ones, as well as to serve as an interactive, personal account of the disease.
In addition, the network will work with local organizations to co-host over 20 community screenings and provide 5,000 screener kits to select organizations to host their own events.
Nevins said the special should appeal to a cross-section of viewers either experiencing the disease themselves or through a family member. Nevertheless, she said that overall HBO viewership of the project will not in itself determine the success or failure of the undertaking.
“I don’t know how you can measure the numbers in the traditional way that says X number of people watched it because it’s not a conventional show — you can access it when you want to watch it through the various platforms,” she said. “But I think it’s already a success just being out there because it’s needed information for many people.”