April 24, 2006 -- -- "Lost" fans around the world will get a chance to start unlocking secrets about the mysterious island that has become an international obsession.
In what's being hailed as the largest interactive challenge based on a TV series, ABC and 19 other networks stretching across five continents are introducing "Lost Experience" -- an Internet game that will feature a parallel story line that will give insight into the top-rated show.
The first clue will air on a May 3 episode, but network executives aren't saying how the game will launch or whether the critical clue will come during the broadcast or as part of a commercial break.
No further information for "Lost Experience" is being released, and network executives say future clues could pop up in any part of the world and on any medium. Fans from different countries will have to reach out to each other and trade information if they want to start sleuthing.
"The game reaches back into 'Lost' history and looks forward to future episodes," said Mike Benson, senior vice president of marketing for ABC Entertainment.
You don't need to be one of those hard-core fans who've memorized every episode, he said. "We wanted to make it so that if you watched 'Lost' from the beginning or if you've never watched the show before you can get into this."
The game is specifically designed in a manner that is not dependent on information from season one or season two.
In its rise to the top of the ratings chart, "Lost" has already pioneered unconventional approaches to marketing that play off the show's eerie tone, including a Web site for Oceanic Airlines, the fictitious company that operated the plane that crashed in the first episode.
"When we built the site for Oceanic Airlines, we wanted to do something that was different from all the other TV show sites," Benson said.
"What we discovered was that by creating additional content for this show, we could create a marketing tool that would have fans more invested in the program, and if it was cool they'd share with their friends."
While the Oceanic Airlines site added some realistic dimension to the show, "Lost Experience" is an entirely more ambitious effort.
"The show breaks so many rules, and we're really trying to do the same with our marketing and be organic," Benson said.