Regional network Prime Television has announced the "world's first" town-specific, video-based social networking sites which will go under the name of iPrime.
The iPrime sites will have URL's and content specific to the regional area they cover (e.g. newcastletv.com.au), and aim to blend user-supplied videos with a TV Web portal similar to that of ninemsn.com.au.
Video content for the site will come from Prime Television and user-generated content which has first been moderated by an unnamed "third-party".
Canberra is due to come online on 7 October, and Newcastle and surrounding areas are expected by the end of the year. iPrime CEO Tony Surtees said he expects the Web sites to be available in all of Prime's NSW, Victoria and WA television coverage areas by the middle of 2008.
iPrime is billed as a "one-stop-shop" and the promotional video, shown at yesterday's launch in Sydney, suggested that "you'll never need to look at another site" and that it was "the local experience or your life".
Surtees said the sites will aggregate content from realestate.com.au, RSVP, Seek and shopping comparison site Getprice, but said the most exciting application offered would be the new Sportsplay.
He described Sportsplay as "MySpace for sport" and would incorporate uploaded local sporting videos and enable players to set up a page for themselves and their club. Surtees also said that the user-generated content would eventually form the basis of a regular Prime Television show.
Surtees stated that users would need to be connected to broadband, and conceded that some country users may need to wait for wireless broadband or similar technologies to mature in order to access iPrime.
Registered users will be offered reward points as part of a loyalty program, with the first offering being an exclusive movie screening in Canberra.
"Regional consumers use the Internet up to twice as much as metropolitan users yet these regional audiences are typically underserved , with very little customised , relevant and localised material, information or even local advertising," Surtees said.
"We are using existing technologies, and we are creating some new technologies as well to create a truly unique user experience" Surtees said.
Surtees added that the iPrime sites were an "experiment", and that as more of the 200 sites came online some may eventually be absorbed into others depending on user traffic and interest.
At the time of writing, canberratv.com.au does not appear to be affiliated with Prime Television or iPrime.