USA Builds Its "Character"

USA is launching a social-networking site as part of its ongoing rebrand under the “Characters Welcome” tagline. The initiative, which includes an ancillary Web site and a major marketing campaign, is being launched in part to find the “most unique” character in the country to star in a Web series, as well as in promos to show on-air and in movie theaters.

The cable network’s spinoff Web site – – will allow viewers to create character profiles and submit videos and pictures. The site will solicit viewer videos from March 20 through April 28. A casting agent will narrow the field to 30 finalists, and then NBC executives will pick the winner.

In launching the site, USA is getting in on the trend to solicit and program content directly from viewers. The Al Gore-helmed cable network Current launched last year with the goal to eventually program 100% viewer-contributed content, and cable networks including VH1 and Bravo have launched programs around viewer-submitted Web videos.

USA will promote its networking site and contest in an on-air campaign and through street marketing in five cities. “Character Ambassadors” will film pedestrians to upload online, and mobile kiosks will allow them to upload content themselves. USA will also buy online ads on classified, career, dating, entertainment and social-networking sites, as well as search engines.