The Shallowing Hypothesis


Storytellers are challenged with capturing the essence of a story and delivering it to their audience in a convincing way. Story elements might include a mood, a subtle emotion or a moment of shock and surprise. Transmedia authors have the same challenges but they face an additional challenge in picking the appropriate channel to deliver their story. Even after an author has crafted a story he or she needs to understand who is listening to those channels and how to engage them. Some recent research on text messaging out of the University of Winnipeg seems to indicate that heavy users of texting channels are becoming shallower. When you think about how carefully a story element needs to be crafted to reach an audience this can have some meaningful implications.

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“Defiance”: A Big Transmedia Gamble

“Defiance” is a new science fiction television series/ massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) that will be released on the SyFy cable network channel April 15th. Another television series and video game set in a dystopian future that has earth invaded by aliens and destroyed by an environmental disaster isn’t an original approach. You only have to look to a host of television shows like “Falling Skies”, films like “Independence Day” or video games like “Gears of War”. The originality, and the risk, comes from the creation of a story world that spans both the television series and the online video game in real time.

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The Relationship Between Social Media Buzz and TV Ratings | Nielsen Wire

An interesting Neilsen report on the relationship between social media buzz and tv ratings. One of the biggest hurdles facing most Transmedia projects is understanding the value proposition of those kinds of projects. They can incur a substantial production cost for creative property and many traditional producers don’t understand their value. Like all Transmedia you need to pick your channel carefully. In this case the strongest correlation between social media buzz and television ratings was in the younger demographics (12-17 and 18-34). It is an important consideration as any show aiming at a older demographic wouldn’t be likely to have much of an impact on television ratings. Rather than being a failure, it would be an example of wrong transmedia channel for that demographic. That also brings up another good point though, not all programming needs to consider transmedia channels for their property. The hype around transmedia and second screen is considerable at the moment but the most intelligent decision might be to look through the hype and understand if it is even the best tool for your project at all.


The Relationship Between Social Media Buzz and TV Ratings | Nielsen Wire.

Short-Form Video and The Future Of Marketing

There is an increasing belief that the future of most content on the internet is video. The general prediction is that by 2020 internet video will overtake broadcast TV. Cable is expensive and there is an increasing amount of free content available on the internet. This doesn’t mean that all of it will be long format programs that run for an hour. The YouTube generation has increasingly demanding short form video for their entertainment. Some companies have taken that format and started to create marketing campaigns around it. Red Bull has been one of the most successful, not only in building a brand around short videos but being success and telling stories in just a few minutes.

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Why Short-Form Video Is The Future Of Marketing | Fast Company.

via Why Short-Form Video Is The Future Of Marketing.

How your audience is using their mobile device

In an article on how-to develop apps for film and television I made it clear that the context or situation of app usage can have a strong influence on how users interact with it. If you take a look at the Nielson report here you can see the trends. It basically comes down to this:

  • Tablets70% use them while watching television, 57% while in bed
  • e-readers – 35% use them while watching television, 61% while in bed
  • Smart phones68% use them while watching television, 51% while in bed

Obviously tablets and smart phones are heaviliy integrated into people’s lives while e-readers are mostly about catching up on a book before bed.

This might seem like a strong support for the “second screen” movement that is currently sweeping the app world. This is the idea that you can provide a second screen through a mobile device that will engage users in a creative property beyond the television screen they are already watching. To really understand if this is real or hype you need to look at another study by Nielson. Although this study has daily usage of mobile devices in front of a television at around 40% (quite a bit lower than the previous study). Now, what are they doing with that second screen?

  • 60% – Checking their email
  • 46% – Surfing the web for content unrelated to the television program
  • 30% – Looking up anything related to the TV program
  • 19% – Looking up something they saw on an advertisement on the TV program

So the majority of the time a mobile user is attending to other aspects of their life that have nothing to do with the television program they are watching. Why this is happening is still unknown. It may be that time starved individuals are multi-tasking all the time. It may be that the apps that go with those television programs haven’t met their expectations yet. No matter what the reason it is an important consideration before you invest in app development for a creative property.

Alberta’s Spillwall and Kairos Transmedia studio connect

It looks like Kairos Transmedia and its partner Spillwall, have inked a new deal with Film Alberta Studio in Edmonton, Alberta. The new partnership will create content aimed at the youth market and combine traditional production with evolving social media technologies. The deal is probably a sign of how most production companies are going to need to evolve and grow.  The partnership combines content production, marketing and distribution in a single company. It is a great idea as a lot of the independent producers I work with on the film side do the content production side very well but haven’t got a clue about the marketing and distribution. It ends with a lot of great content sitting around, looking for a home. The government funding structure for a lot of creative content just perpetuates the model so that trend is likely to continue. The Kairos/ Spillwall deal is an intelligent solution to the problem, it remains to be seen if it is the right solution but it is definitely one to watch. Check out the news release.

BBC Click – Story on Transmedia

A nice summary of transmedia as a strategy for getting narrative noticed by consumers that was done by BBC’s program “Click”. It looks at how digital has opened up a whole new audience for a lot of creative industries. It also addresses the challenges. A lot of creators need to know their storyworld in far more detail than ever before and be able to pick the right media channel to broadcast stories and characters to a potential audience.  Click here.