Robert Pratten on Transmedia Storytelling
Rather than fight or deny the audience’s split attention between TV show and simultaneous use of a second-screen – be it phone, tablet, laptop or whatever is to come next – networks would do best to commission shows that tell stories across both screens.
The key is to tell multi-platform stories: not repurposing B-roll content (that doesn’t create a compelling enough mobile value proposition) or churning out tedious encyclopedic character detail (let the fans create that) but by writing multi-layered stories with additional sub-plots and parallel plots intended specifically for mobile and to be enjoyed socially either at air time or later on demand.
The first illustration shows an experience intended to play across both screens simultaneously which, having been created for the original air date, can be re-run again (or modified) during re-runs or when viewed on-demand or on DVD. Strengthening the “story-in-the-cloud” increases the value of the participatory experience and hence diminishes the value of pirating the show’s video content.
Crafted correctly, synchronous, second-screen stories enrich the TV drama, not distract from it, and encourage sit-forward participation from those that want it. Of course, old school viewers can simply enjoy the show as they always have but they’ll be out of the loop and not a show insider. Maybe their friends who are fans will encourage them to join the party via their live tweets, Facebook status updates and social sharing of show content.
Delivering synchronized content does not necessarily mean when first broadcast live. For recorded and online shows, playback can be synchronized a variety of ways from fancy audio fingerprinting (such as .intonow.com and shazam.com) to entering an episode-specific code at the start of playback when prompted by an on-screen message. And of course there’s no reason why the “live” second-screen content needs to be the same as the “on-demand” second-screen content.
In fact, by using unique on-screen overlays at air time, on-demand or on DVD the second-screen content can be tailored by distributor, territory, media or calendar date. This doesn’t mean all the second-screen content has to be unique to each media channel but savvy production companies can create experiences for easy repurposing and translation to local needs. This means that when successful shows are sold internationally they can be sold with localized experiences tailored to the needs of the buyer.
There are also strong reasons to offer asynchronous or interstitial second screen experiences that keep shows top of mind between weekly episodes and encourage word-of-mouth ahead of the next air date. As illustrated below, experiences might only be available while the season is showing yet flexible enough to fit around the viewer’s availability – offering content that’s easily viewed while commuting or slacking off at work!
In fact, there are many benefits of the dual-screen experience for all players in the value chain if the two screens really are tied into a single entertainment experience:
• reduced churn
• increased incentive for the consumer to buy multi-platform packages (TV, Internet, telephony) if second-screen experiences are enhanced for these consumers. (Currently these 3-in-1 type offers are differentiated solely on price.)
• improved metrics and with it metric-informed experiences that increase retention and social sharing
• increased potential for integrated advertising during the show and between commercial breaks
• increased viewer attention and engagement.
There are many possibilities and business models if the mobile device is seen as more than a simple back-channel communications device. Readers should look beyond the mobile as a remote control and voting terminal and see the second screen as the means by which broadcast media can become personalized entertainment. And it doesn’t have to mean bespoke apps – our pervasive entertainment platform, Conducttr, builds second-screen experiences with email, text messaging and social media so there’s no programming languages to learn or expensive mobile apps to develop.
All that’s needed to enjoy the benefits of the second screen is good transmedia storytelling.
Robert Pratten is CEO and Founder of Transmedia Storyteller, an audience engagement company and provider of Conducttr, an interactive marketing and storytelling platform. He has more than 20 years experience as an international marketing consultant and has established himself as a thought-leader in the field of transmedia storytelling through major contributions to the evolving field in the areas of audience engagement, content strategy and new business models.
He is author of the book Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners.
Tags: mobile value proposition, mobilized TV, MobilizedTV, multi-layered stories, multi-platform stories, Robert Pratten, second screen, story-in-the-cloud, transmedia storytelling, Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners