In a post yesterday I revisited some of my old writings on transmedia, prompted by the realisation that the use of transmedia storytelling methods is still viewed as something quite new and groundbreaking by a fair number of people working in more traditional media settings. This feels a bit astonishing, as I remember some discussions back in the heydays of 2010-13 revolve around a notion most agreed on – that the world of media and the habits of audiences, combined with new media platforms, would ultimately create a reality where transmedia was an integrated part of any story you wanted to tell in any way to any audience.
I at least was simply convinced that the term would be rendered useless as transmedia storytelling methods would become fully logical and natural alternatives for anyone telling a story through media. Apparently, we’re not really there just yet.
Now, this is where I feel the traditional media players of today are making a mistake in not taking these possibilities into consideration to any greater extent. We’ve all lived through – and still are living through – a pandemic that has forced people to change viewing habits as well as spending habits, a period in time where people have become increasingly used to handling things online. Alas, the media industry has not really been able to handle this situation very well.
The writing was on the wall before this as well. Viewing figures are down, way down, for traditional television – more in certain territories, less in others, but all are heading in the same direction. There’s so much content to compete with and the audience is so independent, it’s not possible to do stuff the way it’s been done before. The audience does not need us, and they certainly don’t need scheduled TV programming brought to them by broadcasters and their channels. Nope, it’s us who need them.
So, how can transmedia storytelling methods be of use? Well, they increase the number of tools we have in our toolbox, with tools we didn’t need before but are crucial now. If our traditional tools allow us to make sure the story is engaging and exciting, that the talent is great and the light, sound and set design as well as post production are of high quality, these news tools are something else.
They allow us to figure out what platforms and what media are best used for different stories with different audiences in mind. They help us design narratives and story arcs that engage people while at the same time support each other, even if they exist on different platforms and at different times. They give us the confidence to open up our narratives and story worlds for other people to create and engage and foster loyalty.
Obviously this is all dependent on a fundamental change of approach when it comes to content and stories. Why should a media organisation or a broadcaster ever consider such changes?
I believe it is time to look at revenue in a new way and in a new light. I’ll be looking into this subject in greater detail tomorrow.