Transmedia has been a buzzword in the entertainment industry for quite a while now – and if you feel the need to refresh your knowledge about the term, do have a look at my previous posts on the matter for MIPBlog, a brief introduction here and a series of examples (slightly dated, but still good examples) here.
Seeing as I work in the format business, on the creative side – coming up with new format ideas, implementing them and ultimately marketing them nationally and internationally – and seeing as we are moving more and more into the cross media and transmedia space, the question to struggle with is: is it even possible to create a true transmedia format?
Now a format should, according to all definitions of a television format, be possible to package nicely, market with a good trailer, beautiful flyers, an exciting pitch and good ratings. This irrespectively of it being a game show, a telenovela, an edutainment show or a big reality series. In a transmedia setting, this becomes slightly more complex.
A transmedia property should build on a world – be it a fictional or a ”real” one – with multiple stories tagging into that world via different media, offering consumers a number of entry points into your property. Television is in many cases the leading media, where the main story is played out. Consumers can then, for instance, read the story of a side character on a blog, see a spin-off web series on YouTube, catch up on what happens between seasons in a graphic novel – whatever suits the property best.
But if you’ve done this in one territory, is it then not over-and-done-with for that property? I would argue not. I believe – just like with the telenovela formats raising interest in the formats business – that translation and localisation is key. Quite the contrary to being over-and-done-with; if a transmedia project, with a tv series as main platform, has been successful in one territory, you will have access to templates, websites, games, scripts and above all knowledge about the project, which will make your roll-out of a translated and localised transmedia format all the easier. Simon Pulman of transmythology.com agrees, especially regarding certain types of formats:
“I strongly believe that we’ll see soap operas do it, especially in Latin/Central America. It just makes perfect sense […]. Kids’ shows across the board, from preschool to teen – it’s going to be ubiquitous. Finally, […] I think we’ll see game shows and sports introducing many of these participatory elements and even incorporating narrative – I fully expect brand-integrated transmedia stories to be folded into the next World Cup and/or Olympics.”
Don’t worry about the project being labeled ”transmedia” either – as Anthea Foyer of thelabs.org said in a talk at SXSW this year: ”…it really doesn’t matter if the audience understands what transmedia is; it is enough if they are comfortable with the platforms used”.
The one thing that will be sure to stem the rise of the transmedia format at this year’s MIPFormats and MIPTV is simply the fact that very few formats are transmedia at this point. As more and more projects are initiated, more and more tools are made available and more and more success stories unearthed, however, expect this to change, as transmedia simply offers so many logical and compelling ways to engage consumers more fully into your content.