Feb 162016
 
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Long time no post. I know, bad blogger but prompted to write a little post on today’s announcement from the BBC that it is abolishing it’s ‘Divisions – TV and Radio’. Division is the operative word here as I have written about in some of my last posts (eg Mediocre Broadcaster MultiPlatform) the silo walls that traditional broadcasters have built up are the main reason ‘they’ have become more and more irrelevant to evolved multi-platform, personalized audiences.

“In what is being billed as the most far-reaching organisational overhaul in the BBC’s 93-year history, Lord Hall will give a speech before Easter in which he will unveil proposals to axe the corporation’s existing channel-based structures, fundamentally reshaping the organisation into content and audience-led divisions.” Telegraph article

I worked at the BBC for over 8 years when it was going through another major transformation, the introduction of digital, interactive tv and the internet. I recall many meetings as senior development producer with senior management looking at new ways to create cross-platform content, and perhaps do away with these silly political divisions based on distribution vs audience centricity. So here we are almost 20 years later and finally the game is afoot.

The major transformation that has happened with the ubiquitous new medium called broadband has meant audiences can now get what they want on their own terms, not slaves to schedules or broadcasters second guessing what audiences want. The advent of Netflix (and similar) recently means we are finally living into the age of Personalization (which has been the foundation of this blog since 2006 – spend some time in the archives and you will see many prescient articles) – so organisations that split their content based on receiving boxes (TV screen and Radio receiver) are way behind the curve.

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Audiences, or users, do not differentiate now between these antiquated, dated devices, they press a button and get, video stream to any device, audio (video without the moving stuff) to any device AND lots of pictures, interactive games/education, personally relevant content and great textual stories.

“New divisions may include BBC Entertain, which will absorb Radio 2 and televised entertainment program, and BBC Inform, in which news services and other radio stations like Five Live will be found. Each new division will have smaller ones underneath it such as BBC Youth (a subdivision of BBC Entertain), which will include the online channel BBC Three and popular music station Radio 1.”  Digital Trends

What Next?

It is the non-passive content where ‘traditional’ broadcasters still need to up their game. Forget the endless tomes written about ‘new gaseous distribution’, that is patently obvious, we need to move beyond billions of people passively watching streams, binging on five of the same show back to back in an evening, a public service broadcasters role is to inform through interaction, not just slick, expensive natural history passive programmes. But I digress. I loved the BBC when I was there. It was trying to pioneer new forms of content, new ways to engage an audience. I am sure that breaking the organisation into Entertain, Inform and Youth (which were silos bandied around back in the late 1990s too!) is a step in the right direction. The next challenge is to really encourage innovative proposals which go beyond video stream, audio stream and a web page and connect with their future mobile, personalized users. I have a mental library of ways they and other broadcasters, who are likely to follow suit, can do that.

Next post – The Emperors Clothes in Virtual Reality….

Nov 272013
 

I was invited to present a keynote, of sorts, at the Merging Media 2013 conference – a short and sweet two day conference featuring many great topics and good international speakers with a focus on the business/production side of multi platform but also the more usual esoteric aspects of transmedia and inherent community thinking. My talk was originally going to be a show and tell of all the new opportunities afforded to us by mobile, social & always-on networks, eye-candy with a chunk of futurist ‘my how the world is changing’ – but I decided to turn it more into a ‘what makes a compelling experience’ combined with ‘state of the industry (covered in my previous post)’ combined with a ‘process approach to creating service’,  talk instead – with a little of the navigating the new landscape for good measure. So waaay too much in the time allotted, but at least this article has room to breathe 🙂

I hope I give a flavour of the talk below. I believe Merging Media will be making videos available too – which I won’t be able to watch as I rushed the latter part :(. The first part was actually partly scripted so that made it easier to copy some of that below the slides but there is much much more afterwards with lots of embedded media, I think there is a flow in the post. Obviously the slides only tell a quarter of the story and embedded after the break, but first…

Hello and thanks for inviting me to keynote here in wonderful Vancouver. Being one quarter French Canadian I do feel a little affinity with some of you, and have enjoyed a little time exploring & capturing the environment in the two days prior to this conference. But moving on let me apologise. I have struggled hard to find an innovative new theme, any new jewels of wisdom for you to ponder and apply to your own projects. So much in the transmedia arena has been talked about, theorised and postulated as the journey has only just begun. Perhaps the journey through the presentation itself may throw up some nuggets?. The media and storytelling environment in still in major transition and I and nobody else really knows where we are going, all I can do is prepare myself and others for this change. But first:

An Organic Multiplatform Transmedia Experience?

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This is where I live at the moment and where, I believe, I had a compelling multiplatform experience. It was about two weeks ago. It involved personal life and death decisions, it involved loved ones, friends who lost everything, physical exertion, quests and games, feeling part of and working with a community, rich information, lots of information, the authorities, the law, anxiety, stress, stories of loss and heroism and making profound choices.
Sep 042012
 

Was invited to be on some panels and do a keynote at an ABC mini conference. It was called Radio Beyond Radio and had a focus on new ways to tell stories, ideally audio/radio driven. But there was a personal tension, wearing three hats simultaneously, particularly delivering the keynote. One hat coming from and representing TV Multi Platform , another wanting to be progressively multi media and strategic, to go beyond the ‘now’ and finally a 3rd hat, personally as an experimental audiophile – and just show a bunch of ‘cool’ multi platform audio projects. But in the end I decided to mostly stay above just pulling out sparkly toys or remain tightly aligned to near term TV services and try to answer the age old question – what is the real value in doing anything beyond the linear. What follows is my slides and below an approximate transcript of my talk.

Alchemy

Hello – thanks for inviting me to speak at this weeks event. My talk this morning explores the hybrid world of multi platform storytelling and I hope justifies why all creators need to be involved.vThere is something magical afoot. Alchemy defined as “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value”. Sublime new ways to deliver stories across media channels. Alongside this we have basic chemistry. A science rather than an art. Using tried and tested formula, rinse and repeat digital.

The Transmedia Value Proposition.

Is it just about numbers or deeper engagement? Is it about support for linear properties or truly about how users influence and resonate with stories? Is it about creating loyalty, building communities, telling stories in cool ways, making money, reach, promotion, transformation, or all of the above? Multi platform falls into two simple camps. One. Last minute digital wrappers to help promote or support a linear property or Two. Something that exists on its own, isolated, limited reach with experimental, fail forward intentions. Yes it is still perceived that way by ‘the industry’ which prefers it’s audience to consume passively and in great numbers A rather unfocused and immature form. A transmedia youngster, nervously skipping across main stream film, tv and radio on the newly surfaced rocks of social media, mobile apps, games, physical events and next gen web sites. It’s a new story delivery mechanism still trying to gain widespread recognition. Something of a big risk if it ventures too far from a parental-like, well know ‘branded’ linear property. From my perspective this youngster is about 17 years old. An age based on widespread adoption of online in the mid to late 90s and a little later when I was presenting much the same 360 issues at the BBC. A time when the internet could just about stream low rez video, when one to one chat services were stumbling along and everything we have today was but a distant dream. 17 years on we still we face the same, adoption, issues.

Barriers to Points of Entry

Even though many trials have taken place such as one of my earliest at the BBC here, where a 40 day live web journey across Central Asia in 1997 was a combination of radio, 2 way web, TV, world service news and so on, large media organisations still often looking for the cheapest ‘easiest multi platform routes’. One of the biggest hurdles in early stage, integration discussions with traditional producers are the obligatory questions – ‘its too complex – a black art’, ‘why bother – I don’t use the stuff personally’, ‘we don’t want to detract from the show’, ‘it’s too expensive’ and the most important one which I want to tackle head on today is the old doozy ‘what will we really get in return’?

But first the bad news…

Continue reading »

Dec 312011
 

Originally published Oct 2011 in Wired Magazine ‘Change Accelerators‘ by Gary Hayes

Image by Gary hayes

Grab some nibbles, pour yourself a drink, and sit down. You’re now ready to immerse yourself in a TV show. And then you notice that CSI Miami is placing Facebook photos of your aunt, uncle, and cousins onto the desk of a perp. Lean forward, and keep your eyes peeled, updates from your Facebook page are about to be incorporated into your favorite TV show’s narrative. (Your best friend becomes the suspect!) As you immerse yourself in the story, the story immerses itself in your social world. In this context, online meets offline and your family and friends will never look the same again!

While this opening scenario sounds like pure fantasy, it’s not. It’s actually based on Warner Brother’s Aim High, an upcoming web series that will integrate pictures, music, and information from a viewer’s Facebook page into the video. One might call it the ultimate transmedia vanity blockbuster, where viewers are watching and playing with their own distributed, but connected story fragments. If this trend continues, soon we’ll be interacting with TV and games mashed up with our own social networks on big and small screens everywhere.

Since 2003, tools that allow people to easily create, upload, and share personal content are now commonplace. With so many people sharing their lives through networks, there is a social story revolution unfolding. There are more photos taken every two minutes today than during the entire 1800s and, as my Social Media Counter shows, most of this new content is created by individuals who used to be called the audience.

Since the late ’90s, the vision of interactive TV has been to meld this viewer-generated content into shows, particularly live TV. Today, we are taking the greatest evolutionary steps in broadcasting since the advent of live TV. In my presentation, “The Gamification of Social TV,” I examine the ways audiences are becoming more and more integrated into media, such as shows, films, games, and live events; first, there is the social level, then the participative, and finally, the inclusive.

Real-time conversation about what’s happening on TV has pretty much been with us since the beginning of mass TV in the ’50s. However, nowadays we have advanced well beyond the cord-tethered telethons of yesteryear. Today, advanced technology, like text voting, allows shows to measure the sentiment of the crowd sitting at home, not just the studio audience, in real time.

Andy Warhol famously predicted, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” That future has arrived: We can all be stars in our own lifetimes, even if it’s just among our social network. We have become our own entertainment hubs, around which our friends and media circulate. Broadcasters and service providers have caught on to this trend, and now, entertainment-based social networking websites, like GetGlue, allow viewers to check in to movies, TV, and music. These personalized hubs fueled by recommendation and loyalty are allowing viewers to lock their worlds to TV space.

Not surprisingly, marketers are also taking notice of the advantages presented by social storytelling. A recent example is the Rommy Gulla Facebook video campaign run by Panasonic Australia. To demonstrate a new Blu-ray recorder’s ability to store 28 full days of HD content, the company developed a Truman Show-esque, promotional Facebook campaign encouraging input and social sharing.

Other online services, like Hulu, are also allowing users to bring media directly to their networks and take root inside Facebook itself, creating a forum for friends to share video content seamlessly. At the other end of the spectrum, there are options like Beckinfield Mass Participation TV, which takes social media to the nth degree by inviting users to film themselves as the stars and extend the web show format. This concept borrows from the realm of social alternate reality games, such as a World Without OilTruth About Marika, or Conspiracy for Good, which have been allowing users to write themselves into scripts and become the activist hero for quite some time now. Social media storytelling has deep roots in multiplayer role-playing gaming; in fact, the fastest growing game on Facebook at the moment is Sims, the $4 billion franchise game, where players inhabit and merge with social experiences in an alternate character-driven world.

Is alternate character acting the future? The film industry is not far behind in embracing social films. Earlier this year, Toshiba, Intel, and their ad agency Pereira & O’Dell took a gamble onInside, an interactive film experiment starring Emmy Rossum directed by D.J. Caruso. Now some people are speculating about whether or not social films are the next big thing in Hollywood. Will we see a social film revolution where plot dilemmas are handed over to the audience to experience and solve?

When it is done well, traditional storytelling married to social media is very powerful: It takes those people who want to go beyond a behind-the-scenes DVD extra into the story. While we watch to see if integrated social media entertainment will really take off, there are still some issues to consider, such as, is it invasive for characters from shows to enter an individual’s social networks? and Can a TV blockbuster become too personal?

That said, for now, I’m off to watch an episode of House, where I’m the patient!

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