Transmedia – Opportunity or Trend??

Most recently marketers and publishers have been buzzing about the impending demise of TV and print. Some have heralded cord cutters as the new breed of viewers, who took the first stab at completely disconnecting from TV and instead relying on the Netflix and Amazons of the world. Some have even said that its cord switchers, those who oscillate between  TV and online. Forrester Research went so far as to predict TV’s demise by 2016, when advertisers will spend almost $77 billion online, comprising 35% of overall ad spending. While, highly likely I am a bit weary of this statistic, I don’t doubt this will eventually happen but probably not this soon.

But the question arises, why arent marketers and publishers leveraging TV and Digital in a cohesive manner and leverage their individual capabilities to garner higher revenues and lock in their viewers. Well I believe this need has finally been solves. I am sure some of you have heard the latest buzz word – Transmedia. This concept has the power to single-handedly (ahem.. of course with the help of some very smart marketers particularly those adept in digital) to transform TV and the viewer experience. Here is why:

TV is where the bulk of the audience still currently reside, its a medium that we all have grown up with, and most advertisers still look to as their marquee platform. Most believe their is no other channel draws more eyeballs and generates that brand buzz than TV. So getting them to see that other than GRPs, and the fact that its not really measurable for the millions of dollars they spend is a wasted notion. But for the networks out there, transmedia shows that you dont need to kill one model to drive revenue from another. Why kill off an ally when you can outshine other advertising channels.

Tansmedia storytelling is defined as telling a story that extends across multiple media platforms (for television, it’s going beyond the on-air show). TV might provide the reach but digital and social is where your viewers spend most of their time and are hungry for exclusive content that enhances their experience. Where else can you tell hundreds if not thousands of people about who you are, what you just saw and how it made you feel? That’s a powerful component that most networks are yet to leverage.

According to Lisa Hsia at Bravo “Taking advantage of this new reality is imperative for my network, both from an engagement and value perspective. We see transmedia storytelling as our next must-do in the evolution of TV, and have recently delved into our first campaign with the show Top Chef.”

Bravo ‘sTransmedia Effort: Top Chef

Each week eliminated contestants discover their journey isn’t over. Instead they will have a chance to compete in a companion digital series that will roll out each week after the on-air episode premieres. These online shows will give the eliminated contestants a chance to earn their way back into the broadcast finale. The digital series will directly impact the outcome of the on-air show.

Here comes the real bonus – to experience the full dynamic of the competition, fans will be enticed to watch both TV and digital platforms. Our aim is to appeal to the Top Chef enthusiast with the deeper, more meaningful content they crave, as well as create discoverable online content that will pull casual fans into the fold.

This is truly remarkable. So rather than sharing an extra clip or bonus content, Bravo’s Top Chef is taking viewer experience to a whole new level and ensuring that it leverages each platform effectively, while interconnecting platforms.

According to Lisa, the goal is to flow content from platform to platform and to bring in the fans along the way. By unifying elements with the common goal of driving engagement around this transmedia centerpiece, Bravo is setting out to prove that all metrics — ratings, traffic, and social buzz — will lift. Thereby increasing the value of the proposition in terms of engagement, but also in terms of ROI for our long-term sponsors.

However, Bravo is not the only player leveraging this concept.

Syfy ‘sTransmedia Effort: Definace

Syfy has a show coming out called Defiance where a story is told on TV and in a video game: different cities with shared characters and events. One can only wonder if Syfy will allow fans to develop the plot and story for each week to see how the game shapes up.

As a cord cutter, the above efforts make me want to turn on my TV.

This is not to say Transmedia is suitable or will work for every program/effort. According to Henry Jenkis, Fast Company Expert Blogger, transmedia allows gifted storytellers to expand their canvas and share more of their vision with their most dedicated fans. But many stories are told perfectly well within a single medium, and the audience leaves satisfied, ready for something else.

Moreover, it allows smart media companies/ Publishers to turn viewers into engaged audiences, and in turn leverage their properties – digital and TV. For TV to survive and digital to draw in the big bucks they need to sync these two together. That will be the only way both mediums will ultimately prosper. The question is will media companies be willing to take the risk and added cost to starting and testing? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So what do you think? Is Transmedia another concept thought up by some overtly excited marketer or do you see the value? Chime in through the comments section.

20 thoughts on “Transmedia – Opportunity or Trend??

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    • Thanks for the comment AND for reiadng our musings. The Transmedia space is certainly exciting and great to hear about people (and of course teacher) like yourself who are embracing this new storytelling paradigm as a means of educating and empowering kids with project based learning. We would love to hear about specific issues/discussions/questions you encounter within this space!

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