After MIPCOM last October I wrote a blog post entitled “It’s getting there“. That sentence perfectly summed up my sentiment about the television industry; the media world right now IS a multiplatform world, and people and companies left and right are starting to get creative around this fact. This includes all aspects of television, from initial development to script writing, from marketing to distribution and from technical implementations to audience interaction.
The one thing that is not necessary getting creative enough yet is the funding. At the Future Media 2.0 conference in Riga, Latvia, Triona Campbell from beActive Entertainment talked about beActive’s take on crossmedia, especially with regards to funding. According to her, there has been a clear change in how broadcasters approach crossmedia proposals:
“I feel that the broadcasters increasingly want projects to have a clear crossmedia or transmedia angle. The problem is that they are not prepared to pay what it costs to develop and produce that kind of content.”
This in turn means that the producers need to get creative, not only when it comes to developing content, but also when it comes to finding the funds to actually produce the content. Tishna Molla, COO of Power to the Pixel, another speaker at the Future Media 2.0 conference, has observed an increasing level of maturity among producers:
“We’ve seen a clear change in how producers approach cross media at our Pixel Market since we launched the event three years ago. Back then it was very much a film focus, while last year we saw an upswing in factually-driven TV series. This year, for the first time, we’ve seen people coming in with native transmedia projects, both fiction and non-fiction. On the other hand, it’s getting harder to define the term ‘producer’, as the one fronting the project no longer necessarily is the one owning the IP. Still, if you want to take a look at a good example, look no further than “The Incredibles”, a great project meshing TV / film and comics.”
But if you’re a producer and you’re faced with the need to go crossmedia, multiplatform or transmedia in order to get your project produced, and you know that you need to start looking at the audience in a different way, where should you start? At the beginning, of course. Here are three handy tips to keep in mind:
1. Look at your project from all angles from the outset, without prejudice, to find out which platforms are necessary, which platforms are unnecessary and which platforms hang in the balance. A platform can be needed for financial reasons (SMS-votes or suchlike) but be totally unnecessary story-wise. In such cases, story always takes preference.
2. Find your audience… and BE your audience. You can never research your target audience too much. As soon as you know what your story will be about, you should find where the people from the target group exist. If many of them are on an online discussion forum, you should be there too, and not just when your TV series is coming out, but way ahead of that. Building credibility in the circles where your content ought to be received the best can have very long-reaching implications. These can stretch from viral marketing boosts to actual co-creation together with the audience.
3. Be creative at all times with all aspects of the project. This is admittedly not what television does best; releasing the hold of the IP is seldom what comes first to mind for producers or broadcasters. In a constantly fluctuating world, with an audience that has a multitude of choices competing for their attention, any crossmedia project needs to be quickly adaptable to deal with demands, challenges and opportunities. Such an agility is hard to achieve, but possible, especially by applying transmedia storytelling methods from the outset of the development process.
Simon Staffans is a format developer for MediaCity Finland, and a regular contributor to MIPBlog.