Preface

What Multi-platform Content Creators Should Know

By Rita Carbone Fleury (French)

One of the biggest frustrations and yet one of the most exciting things about trying to maximize the value of your interactive property today is the continually changing environment. By the time you talk to people, gather information and put an exploitation plan in to place, it needs to be revised or re-positioned or re-worked – and maybe all of the above!

When I first launched my career in the international television program sales market in 1991 (and note I say television – not content sales – back then it was JUST television!) the opportunities were clear.

There was a list of “likely suspect buyers” who might be interested in your programming. Each country usually had a public broadcaster (or two) a number of private commercial networks and maybe a cable network that had limited penetration and therefore limited funds to pay you.

The thing is – it pretty well stayed that way for a decade! Yes, cable started to build penetration and therefore the likely suspects grew in numbers slightly, but for the most part you knew what doors to knock on when you wanted to sell your programs; and potentially what the return would be.

Flash forward to today!

Along with the “traditional” television buyers, content producers and distributors have many “unlikely” digital suspects. Good news right? There might be hundreds of companies out there interested in licensing/acquiring your content and you are going to make tons of money right? This should be a heyday for business development types… Well not so fast!

The biggest opportunity is also the biggest challenge because by the time you try to put any of your new found opportunities and partners into play – they may be yesterday’s news, total failures or too successful to be interested in you or your content anymore. But don’t despair, the best advice I can offer at this writing is that, in this ever changing digital environment, you have to take it one day at a time and recognize that you may never be ahead of the game, so the next most important thing is to get in the game!

So with that in mind, I hope to jumpstart some of your efforts to “get in the game” by giving you my definitive (for now) list of Must Do’s for Digital Content Creators.

Treat your content (all of it!) like a Franchise.

Start thinking of your content as an asset with different components that have many monetary opportunities attached to them – remember you’ve got: the television component, the online/ interactive component, the mobile component, the educational component, the electronic sell- thru component, the consumer good component.

If you start thinking about your content like this from the get-go, it will be easier to plan for the exploitation of the content in multi-platforms. Your ability to monetize your content will be directly related to the way in which you plan and prepare for monetization. It seems like a no-brainer but often independent producers and broadcasters get so caught up in the production of the TV series that everything else comes after the fact. My best advice is to stop thinking that way and start planning for exploitation from day one.

Understand your Audience

Understand the Audience you are producing for and the different ways audiences are consuming your content in today’s marketplace. Audiences that you might be producing content for include:

  • Audiences that comes back every night/week to watch your content on television. They don’t want to feel like they are being compelled to engage or interact.
  • The next level of user may go online to get more of the story.
  • A further tier watches the TV show, goes online, is part of the world, and gets involved in the next level of game play.
  • Those who only get their content online.

Remember that in order to attract and keep these various types of audiences, broadcasters (who are still the primary buyers of multiplatform content) are currently interested in: casual games, multiplayer games, immersive virtual worlds, and social networks. All these encourage repeat long term visits and if multi-platform content is connected to the TV show and it is compelling enough, this will drive on air viewership.

Digitize your Linear Content

Television content still drives the success of much of the online content that has been produced so why not start giving this content the treatment it deserves? By this I mean, ensure your television content gets as much exposure as possible in as many digital platforms as allowable by your broadcast agreements. The advice here is create your digital content once but deploy it everywhere! Wanna know how to do that? Consider encoding your original production in a Mezzanine file. So why is making sure that your television content is available in many formats important for your online interactive content? Well, since you asked, in an ideal world accessibility and exposure will drive interested audiences to your online content because they will want to learn more about your content and support their “streaming” experience with a more immersive one!

Have a plan to DRIVE Traffic to your online content

Just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. Marketing is still paramount. Visitors have to find your content in order for anyone to be interested! This is important because eyeballs are what makes the content compelling for monetization.

Invest resources (time and people) to build your content opportunities.

Unfortunately this piece of advice is going to hurt for cash-strapped independent producers because you really do need to spend money to make money. Having a plan means nothing if you can’t execute it, so moving forward from here on in – make building your digital business a priority. That means budgeting for it and allotting the resources required to it. The truth is the return in the short-term is not there but you’ve got to be in the game if you want to win the game.

Share

This bliki is full of great advice from smart people who have gone out there and been pioneers in the online world. They have shared whole-heartedly their successes and failures. Although we have covered a lot of ground, we know there are other opportunities out there that we weren’t able to explore. There is a lot still to be said about making money with your content through social networks, in the educational space and through other information institutions like museums. But that’s where YOU, the reader come in! We encourage you to share your stories by contributing to our bliki so that we can all benefit from that knowledge. This is an open-source document and we hope that you will continue to make it so!

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