Transmedia…how will the next iteration of broadcast television survive?

I read this great article, Rebel Alliance by David Kushner, in the most recent issue of Fast Company. As a pseudo-Indiana Jones fannatic (ie. I was not an over-the-top psychotic fan –> I just loved the movie series), I know what it’s like to be all-consumed with anticipation about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that debuted in theatres last week. I owned the series on VHS –> I got each one from McDonald’s years ago when they were promoting it back then. I watched each episode featured on TV in the weeks leading up to the premiere. I was also bombarded with TV trailers, not to mention those posted on Youtube. Unlike TV series, the infrequency of movie premieres lends itself to the advantage of developing the anticipation and hype prior to a debut. Television series cannot leverage that same potential. Or can they? The article speaks about the obsolescence of broadcast television and what can define success in the next iteration as the digital home becomes more of a reality. David speaks of this new buzzword, “transmedia” as defined by Wikipedia as “storytelling across multiple forms of media”. Its growth is driven by the explosion of new media including video gaming, mobile and web apps that allow new forms of content creation. These guys understand that like what itunes has done to music sales, the same environment will dictate a move towards creating an alternative revenue stream for TV/video programming. It’s already happening. On the heels of Hulu (NBC/Newscorp venture), ABC announced it was going to allow free video sharing for all its content, making most video content by both networks ubiquitous. While Hulu has allowed embedding without required sponsor ads, ABC still requires the user to view commercials in their entirety. It’s my guess that the online user may demand alternative forms of advertising as viewing programming online becomes more mainstay.

So, what does transmedia imply? For true fans this means access to new information through enhanced storylines or character development and also having the privilege to comment and contribute to new content. This involves development of a branded universe with increasingly more consumer interaction and creation. This plays into the eventual semantic web as initial mass appeal becomes more fragmented and true loyalty to a product will be borne by the few. So dependence on the die-hard “trekkies” or fantatics for sustainability may help build product longevity. Everything’s in test-mode right now. Today’s content generation now has the power to dictate where it all eventually leads…still to come…

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