Great to see my old friend Jon Dakss now running the iTV roost at NBC New Media. Jon was a pioneer in interactive development when he introduced me and the BBC to Watchpoint’s Storyteller a few years ago. Storyteller was something ahead of its time (still) as apart from the basic single screen multi iTV format authoring it had unique video tracking hotspot and non-linear narrative engines built in. Jon is also a very nice chap and wonderful to see the widening of NBC’s strategy into cross-media. He was recently interviewed in depth by Tracy Swedlow for ITVT (where I quote from) and talks about something that sounds remarkably like Gold Rush 😉 (Mark Burnett’s US wide treasure hunt I posted about in Alternative Reality TV a couple of weeks ago). Here is Jon talking about “Treasure Hunt”

I think you’re going to see us be leaders in all those spaces. NBC Universal Television CEO, Jeff Zucker, recently announced that there’s going to be a large initiative within NBC, called TV360. It’s effectively a way of saying to production companies, to studios, to advertisers, that we’re no longer thinking just about what you see on your TV screen, when we think about a show. Everything is going to have a package associated with it, in which there will be a VOD component, a mobile component, and an online component. And it’s going to become truly part of the DNA of how NBC programs its shows.

Just to give you one example of how the TV360 strategy is going to work: this summer, we’re going to be launching a show called “Treasure Hunters,” which is unparalleled in scope, compared to anything that’s been on television, before. Picture it basically as “National Treasure” and the “Da Vinci Code” and the “Amazing Race” all rolled into one. The show basically follows teams that are searching for a treasure that’s worth millions of dollars. They’ll use historical secrets and codes and things like that, plus compete in all sorts of physical, strenuous challenges across all different types of terrain and landscapes, in order to find a hidden treasure. The show’s going to have its own treasure hunt online and via mobile that will be integrated into the linear part of the show. Viewers at home will be able to participate: they’ll have clues they’ll need to find and puzzles they’ll need to solve. There’s never been anything like it before on television.”

Seems ‘360’ is back in fashion, the BBC have been using it for many years but I wonder if mobile, online and TV is truly 360. Here is a slide from a BBC presentation I did back in 2000 that attempted to illustrate 360 thinking, in a very simple way…

CM ©Gary Hayes 2006

In those days narrowband was still significant but I included print, games, dvd, personal TV, PDA and the catch-all non-existant platforms. There will never be a truly 360 service (although Da Vinci is getting close!) – some services gradually get to 360 degree by degree – but surely linear TV, websites and mobile phone are what…140 degrees or something? Add the physical world into the mix and we are getting somewhere but more importantly add in user content. The definition of cross-media is often aimed at producers pushing content through multiple platforms rather than ‘receiving’ content through multiple platforms. That back channel is a critical part of truly rounding the circle that many producers miss.

Back to Jonathan who is now Director of Interactive TV Product Development at NBC Universal – it looks like a cool gig and the Technology Growth Center sounds like a real step in the right direction, helping NBC develop truly unique services

“I think that, in many ways, speaks to that TV360 concept that I mentioned earlier. You’ll be seeing an interactive component, an online component, a VOD component, a mobile component and so on offered in conjunction with all major programming–not just with unscripted programming, but with dramas and comedies. Those things will just become part of the fabric of a show. I think our senior management understands the power that adding interactive and multiplatform components to a show can have, both in terms of ratings and in terms of appeal to sponsors.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2006