The transmedia business model

The transmedia business model has started taking shape in France in 2009. Why in France? Because in the US, the conviction has become a reality:

– some examples in Transmedia Lab blog: Matrix, Heroes, Dark Knight, Lost, are American productions.

– HBO, the popular cable station, already has a transmedia department working on story development from the earliest stages.

– Hollywood productions start budgeting the cross media production costs, which were previously grouped into marketing, from the beginning, says Jeff Gomez

– MIT is creating its Center for Future Storytelling worth 25M$.

– Avatar, James Cameron latest production, which has a lot at stake since it’s a decisive step for 3D film, is also part of the transmedia universe, its videogame, created by Ubisoft, the company that also created the special effects in the film, came out a few weeks before the film itself.

– Transmedia now extends to reality TV with If I can dream: “19 Entertainment has created a show, broadcast on the Internet, where the candidates are chosen on Myspace. The contestants will be five aspiring artists who want to break through in Hollywood, Internet users will be able to interact in real time thanks to Myspace, Twitter, Facebook but also by SMS and through blogs; the video platform Hulu will broadcast a weekly show about the events of the previous week.”

It’s true that reality TV is particularly participative and touches a target, which is familiar with multiple screens. Transmedia and reality TV, the next winning combination?

Beyond the interactivity, the amazing thing with the If I can dream example, is the “interest of big companies in the concept. Pepsi and Ford sponsor the program, both companies say that it’s a way to touch new audiences.” This is the logic of brand content, or rather of branded content: brand content is the logic of creating and editing the content for a brand, branded content creates links between the content developed and a brand, the brand has been added, the content can exist without it. (Led by its marketing manager Amaury Boulanger, Transmedia Lab is organizing a breakfast about branded content with Frank Perrier from Idaos at the beginning of January, in order to see things more clearly and get ahead with advertisers). For sector expert Emery Doligé, ex-Ogilvy, “It’s a win win situation: getting the brands on board from the beginning of the production through an advertiser co-financing deal leads to a sponsored program which will be less expensive for broadcasters. Transmedia storytelling is an investment in a media that will end up on three platforms: TV, Web and mobile.”

If we stay with the classic audiovisual production model, things are slowly evolving, a reality TV producer was telling me that “reality transmedia is not really understood in France”. “The interaction with the audience in the creation mechanism of the program is still a pain for broadcasters; the key for producers is to integrate it as early on as possible, this requires conception by a multi-disciplinary team to create natively multi-platform content. The negotiation of the rights is done at the same time as the creation of the transmedia aspect of the program.”

Transmedia is an innovation that brings together several trends and business models. When an innovation integrates several elements, it’s a strategic nightmare since there is no longer a reference offer for the consumer! Is it TV, Internet, Mobile, video game? In Avatar’s case, each offer remains in its segment: cinema and video games. In the case of more integrated works, like the ones Transmedia Lab is developing with the 5 winners of the call for projects, the offer is not as divided: the TV interacts with the Internet, which links to the Mobile! When we don’t know how to understand a new value, it’s sometimes necessary to change segments, to compare with other global leisure experiences… or to wait for transmedia to become the reference for audiovisual creation. The US are already on that path.

Reza Gahem Maghami (Global Digital Leader at Proximity Worldwide and Worldwide board member) –

Arthur Kannas (CEO Heaven)


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