USA Network casts viewers for new site

USA Network is creating its own social-networking headquarters with Show Us Your Character.com, an online community where viewers not only can chat about the network's quirky TV personalities like Monk, but also rival them with their own chance to be coined America's most unique character.

The site, set to launch Monday, is designed as the central component of the network's Characters Welcome branding campaign intended to grab online revenue and drive viewership.

The six-week Show Us Your Character contest kicks off the second phase of the cross-platform crusade shifting focus from such network characters as those from Monk and The Dead Zone to the people who watch them.

Accompanying the contest will be more than 30 on-air spots showcasing unusual characters from across the country and a grassroots program in five major US cities featuring entertainment and mobile kiosks where participants can upload their own pictures and video to the site.

Viewers will be able to cast their votes for their favorite character, with the grand-prize winner securing a national on-air campaign on USA, a featured appearance in AMC, Cinemark, and Regal Entertainment Group's FirstLook movie preshow, and an exclusive Web series.

Alexandra Shapiro, USA Networks' vice president, marketing and brand strategy, said the site, which was created with streaming video in mind, will live as long as there is an audience interested in it, and that it isn't contingent upon the network's programming, which also includes the series Nashville Star and The 4400.

"We're asking the viewers to show us their characters, and we think the site can eventually become an incubator for great new characters to live on air," Shapiro said.

The deal follows last week's announcement that NBC Universal, which owns USA, made a commitment to the digital realm with its $600 million acquisition of the online destination iVillage.

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