“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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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.