Cynthia Littleton

From the moment the "Lost" finale ended, the Internet was ablaze with commentary, analysis, ranting and raving about the merits of the epic series closer.

The explosion of chatter on blogs and Websites -- which probably put a big dent in U.S. worker productivity rates on Monday -- underscored the instrumental role that "Lost" has played in driving the growth of the TV-centric blogosphere.

With its sprawling storylines, ongoing mysteries and large ensemble of characters, "Lost" was tailor-made for the kind of fanatical blogging and episode-parsing that is now the norm for many shows of all genres, from "Mad Men" to "Jersey Shore." With its debut in September 2004, "Lost" grew up just as blogging was becoming mainstream thanks to the spread of turn-key blog hosting platforms.

Web-based commentary and coverage of "Lost" quickly became a cottage industry for mainstream media players -- Entertainment Weekly and the Washington Post had particularly robust "Lost" pages -- and a ritual for devoted fans of the show writing for their personal blogs, as well as through Facebook and other social media outlets.

By midday Monday, Google was tracking more than 1,700 online news articles related to "Lost" and 245 blog posts devoted to Sunday's 2-1/2-hour finale, "The End."

"This was the right show at the right time," said Alan Sepinwall, TV critic for, who writes extensively about dozens of TV series including "Lost." "This was a hugely popular show that could be parsed in many ways. It drew a lot more people to this kind of writing (about TV shows) and it helped it expand to other shows that were not as popular as 'Lost.' ... I don't know when we're going to get another show that is as watched as 'Lost' was, and as dense and open-ended" in its storytelling, Sepinwall said.

The ability for viewers to opine, discuss and debate the show in real time with other "Lost" nuts helped deepen the level of interest and engagement of the hard-core fan base -- something no amount of ABC marketing dollars could buy. And the fact that the vast majority of "Lost" blogging was organic and unrelated to any promotional efforts by ABC only added to the show's street cred with fans.

The Washington Post's decision to create a "Lost" hub on its Website came about when it became apparent that scribes, Jen Chaney and Liz Kelly, who were already writing the paper's Celebritology blog, were "Lost" nuts and inclined to write about the show. The initiative took on a life of its own for the Post's website once it became clear that "Lost" posts generated a strong response from readers and spurred Web traffic.

For ABC, the flowering of the "Lost" fan-o-sphere has been an education in how to use the Web and social media as a marketing and viewer engagement tool. Michael Benson, ABC Entertainment Group's exec veep of marketing, credits "Lost" with forging a path of convergence between TV and online interactivity that many shows now aspire to as a matter of course. But a key lesson from "Lost" is that it only works if you've got the goods, creatively speaking.

"This show was the catalyst in making the use of technology and social networking the norm" for TV shows, Benson said. "It forced you to ask questions about the mythology and about the characters. And the technology allowed them to talk about it together...What 'Lost' did was show us that TV can be about having this whole multiplatform experience. What it shows is not only the true power of broadcast TV but the power of online and digital (media) to work in synergy."

(Justin Kroll contributed to this report.)






Television - 'Lost' Found 'Net Niche: Show Stoked Fires of TV-Centric Blogosphere