Transforming the TV and Film Industry in the Digital Age

In today’s technologically savvy world, the role of the media consumer is evolving. The availability, mobility, and practicality of media convergence have enabled infinite possibilities in consuming media. No longer is it realistic for the media industry to deliver content through one medium and expect mass audiences to passively consume it. Instead, media executives must cater to a different kind of audience, one that has fragmented into millions of smaller interest communities and one that will not be satisfied in merely consuming, but also producing, sharing, and interacting as well. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins in the MIT Technology Review, “younger consumers have become information hunters and gatherers, taking pleasure in tracking down character backgrounds and plot points and making connections between different texts within the same franchise.” However, despite the strong economic incentives to embrace this “consumer 2.0,” many media companies remain hesitant to launch franchises reliant on transmedia storytelling. Certainly, the lack of a consistent and dependable business model makes constructing and executing a multiplatform story risky. But as long as media companies cling to old production and distribution practices, they will never reap the benefits from delivering more complex, interconnected narratives across multiple media to consumers who demand more involved, engaging experiences.

In this paper, I begin by explaining why the television and film businesses need to transform their business model to adapt new technologies and new consumers. I then argue that transmedia storytelling, when done correctly, successfully fulfills this need and promises many economic advantages. However, while a transmedia story franchise has potential to be highly lucrative, I recognize there are economic and creative challenges that remain problematic. I conclude by exploring what the entertainment industry can do to overcome these obstacles and benefit from everything that transmedia storytelling has to offer.


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4 Responses to “Transforming the TV and Film Industry in the Digital Age”

  1. Tom Stanley Says:

    I was on Yahoo and found your blog. Read a few of your other posts. Good work. I am looking forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tom Stanley

  2. Tim Todd Says:

    Very nice and informative posts. Very much on the same wavelength as my blog (which started up at about the same time). I included your blog in my links section.

    I thought it would be an interesting to extend my blog “Prime Time For Change – Rethinking Media in a Digital Age” as an example of transmedia content that engaged readers. I thought it would be interesting to take a traditional blog and make it something more. Something which engaged the reader, and brought more of a sense of community than blogs in general do. Not sure how I will do this yet, but it is an intriguing concept that I think very much relates to our discussion. It looks like you have similar thoughts along those lines as well.

    Thanks for the post and the interesting blog!

    Tim Todd

  3. Tim Todd Says:


    Thanks for the link and the detailed comment. I look forward to hear what you have to say and to interacting with you over here and at my blog. I don’t have trackback setup so I will leave this comment here and after your comment on my blog post.

    I completely agree that “television and film businesses need to transform their business model to adapt new technologies and new consumers”. If they don’t, I think they will continue to lose viewers and from the viewers that remain they will further lose ad views and timeshare. All of this obviously will affect their ROI.

    This goes very nicely with one of the main points I was trying to make in my post. TV networks need to realize who they are competing with and who they are competing for. I believe they are now in competition with video games, with user generated content, with Netflix, etc.

    They are in competition with production companies that finish the stories they start as well as a plethora of completed content. They are also, as you mention, competing for a new type of consumer.

    Myself, I am unplugged from cable and satellite. All the content I watch is delivered from the internet, Netflix, or DVD/HD-DVD/Bluray. I like to invest in the shows I watch. I also watch, or at least did watch, streaming primetime shows while I workout. I started 4 shows all of which were canceled. I have a lot of other options and will most likely exercise those options. It just isn’t worth it to invest in a show and have it canceled.

    On the flip side, I had a very good experience with the web distributed series Afterworld by Electric Farm Entertainment and am looking forward to the next series they are starting up called Gemini Division.

    You may want to check out and the fan site (I help out with it). Electric Farm Entertainment is putting together some very exciting transmedia material. Gemini Division will be a web distributed series. Electric Farm will be partnering with NBC and are shaping commercials (Intel and some others) within the content. I think you will find it pretty interesting. They just launched the main site today.

    I am also involved in a project which is developing a new way of searching and clustering movie content. It is over at

    Thanks again for the great comment, look forward to further interaction.


  4. Bookmarks about Communities Says:

    […] – bookmarked by 1 members originally found by lewen7er9 on 2008-09-09 Transforming the TV and Film Industry in the Digital Age – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by member7737 on […]

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