Let’s be honest, TV as a single medium is dead. No TV station with more than 5k viewers nowadays can afford to only provide it’s viewers with one means of access to its content.
Thanks to recent advances in technology, it has become very easy for people to turn into guerilla filmmakers and there has been an explosive grow of content. Nowadays, just about everyone can create just about everything. While the quality of such user-generated content might not be on-par with what the “big guys” are producing, this development certainly shows that consumers don’t want to just sit down and have the TV channel hit them with their “fix”, no, users are looking to take part in the whole process.
While the situation in Europe isn’t as advanced as in the United States, TV channels have done a great job in providing users with more means to interact with what’s happening on screen. During casting shows, viewers are able to vote for their favourite up-and-coming-star and for certain TV shows, consumers can even receive up to the minute information as to when a given show really starts.
Sadly, all these “enhancements” are actually ways to generate more revenue and provide little added service for the viewer. Compared to what consumers in the US of A are able to receive, this development looks like TV channels in Europe are only slightly past the stone age.
“Companion” was, according to me, the buzzword of the years 2005 and 2006 in media that was broadcast in recent years. Viewers expect to receive more “bang for their buck” so to speak and the bigger media networks are more than happy to oblige:
CBS’ new hit show “Jericho” for example is available for free on InnerTube, via a streaming Flash Player. The show’s web companions “Beyond Jericho” and “Countdown” provide extra information about the story. While they don’t feature the same characters, fans are given an extra five minutes of their favourite show every week.
The SciFi channel approaches the problem from a different point of view: it’s hit series Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis are both accompanied by about five weblogs each, written by the show’s producers, actors and other staff. During the first three shows of the last three seasons, SciFi even released podcasts that provided additional commentary to the story on screen.
These channels have seen the light, they know that they can’t beat the Internet’s power, so they decided to harness it in the best way possible. The result? Stargate: SG1 has seen a 15% increase in viewers over the last three years, which is amazing for a show that has been running for close to ten years now.
Sure, in the end, all these networks want is more viewers so they can sell more airtime to their advertisers, but the deal offered to the consumer is a good one.