The New Rules of Engagement
This extract from Broadcast is based on a roundtable discussion about the state of play of multiplatform and interactivity around TV.
The new rules of engagement
14 March, 2013 | By Alex Farber
What are broadcasters and producers bringing to the table in multiplatform projects – and how can they make them pay? Broadcast brought together the key players at a roundtable sponsored by Xbox
ROUNDTABLE THE PANEL
Alex Farber (chair) Web editor, Broadcast
Adam Gee Multiplatform commissioner of factual, Channel 4
Harvey Eagle Marketing director, Xbox UK
Paul Bennun Chief creative officer, Somethin’ Else
Peter Cowley Managing director, Spirit Media
Victoria Jaye Head of IPTV and TV online content, BBC Vision
Anthony Rose Founder, Zeebox
Janine Smith Creative director, Zodiak Active
Why is innovation so important?
Paul Bennun All of us want to create wonderful services, products and content that is going to be enjoyed and used by as many people as possible. You can’t just think about programmes any more; you have to use design-thinking, and that means employing more than one platform.
Do viewers want innovation?
Anthony Rose When there was only black-and-white TV, it’s unlikely people were clamouring for colour; they didn’t know it was possible. As a developer, you take bigger bets on things that you think have a high chance of succeeding and smaller bets on things that are fun to try. That’s the joy of innovation.
How do they engage with content?
AR Once the BBC filmed beautiful things for TV, then it began producing programme pages online, then second- screen apps. Then Twitter arrived offering conversations around content. The nirvana is that some programmes could be completely interactive. Imagine The Voice where the audience is the fifth chair.
PB I disagree, I do not want to be calling the shots on a football match. I want a director to tell that story because they can do a better job than I can. Interactive dramas that try to work on a mass scale tend to be worse than a simple linear experience.
Adam Gee But Embarrassing Bodies: Live From The Clinic is exactly in that space. You can watch the show at 8pm and have been on it by 9pm. It throws the emphasis back on live TV, which is good for advertising. There is a sweet spot between TV and interactive where you can get mass participation and rewarding, new experiences.
Janine Smith We have reached a point where we can learn from things we have done, and develop new formats where the multiplatform element is integral and not just an extended add-on.
There is a sweet spot between TV and interactive where you can get mass participation and rewarding, new experiences. Adam Gee, Channel 4
Has the role of the broadcaster changed?
AG It’s critical to ask what you can bring as a broadcaster that no one else can. Facebook, Twitter or Zeebox couldn’t make Live From The Clinic. You want to get to a position where if you extract the digital from the TV, it’s a lesser programme and vice-versa.
VJ Programming is still one of the key catalysts for social discussion. You’ve got to put something great out there for the audience to get excited about. Only we can bring Sir David Attenborough to Twitter for a chat about Africa.
AG I always ask if what is being proposed is better than a really good TV show and Twitter. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings is one of the biggest factual formats on Channel 4, but there’s nothing much that we can usefully bring to the party in that case – so we don’t…
Peter Cowley Editorially I agree, but if you were a purely commercial broadcaster you might have a different view.
PB When the BBC removed its multiplatform commissioning, it effectively started presenting itself to the world as a TV commissioner. Because the BBC measures itself on its performance with TV programmes, it isn’t measuring the success of its digital formats.
AG We’re in a different place at C4. The past 18 months has been about trying to find the passage from digital to television. I’m working on a panel show that started life as an online arts commission; it’s a sign of maturity that this direction of travel is now possible.
How mainstream are multiplatform projects becoming?
VJ Media literacy is a big job for the BBC. The challenge is: how do you invite and choreograph 6 million people to download an app and play along with a 35-year-old programme such as Antiques Roadshow?
HE We are now trying to expand our audience beyond core gamers by creating content and entertainment experiences with broader appeal.
Who are the emerging players?
VJ Felix Baumgartner’s space dive really showcased the mixed economy: a 10-minute live event, funded by Red Bull, with 8 million YouTube viewers, followed by a BBC documentary funded via a completely different model with National Geographic. It shows the new players that are bringing audiences content.
PB Red Bull has no broadcast infrastructure overheads. It will ask how something executes across the different platforms and won’t draw any distinctions. We made Red Bull’s Bedroom Jam, which included an online music competition and a live broadcast. A programme doesn’t sum up what we’re trying to achieve any more.
HE We’re trying to go beyond the console model and become a service that exists across multiple devices.
AG The new YouTube channels are an area where TV baggage is damaging. Some have squeezed out everything that’s really good about YouTube. You want that energy that comes from someone being able to record, edit and bang something out in three hours.
Extract published courtesy of Broadcast