Transmedia Possesses a Great Economic ROI
Needless to say, transmedia universes harbor immense economic opportunities. Of course, as with all business enterprises, a certain amount of risk remains, but careful research, planning, and a great product offer just as much of an insurance against that in transmedia franchises as in other products. So far, the most visible transmedia storyworlds – Harry Potter, The Matrix, and Pirates of the Caribbean, for example – usually had as their driving platform movie series worth hundreds of millions of dollars. What we must bear in mind, however, is that in the time of new media, such immense initial investments are no longer necessary.
As Chris Anderson points out in his book The Long Tail, distribution mechanisms are changing drastically. Depending on the kind of audience you are trying to reach, it can be enough to begin with a series of webisodes, a small online game, and a few graphic novels, distributed online or offline. An e-book is also a good starting point. Producing media content is really no challenge anymore in a time where professional production tools are easily affordable for amateurs as well. What you will have to pay most money for, however, is the talent, most particularly, the intellectual property which remains rare until this day.
With any luck (and really good content!!!) your small-scale transmedia franchise will build a loyal fan-following, and as past examples have shown (particularly in the world of comic books), the original fan-following surrounding a storyworld often draws in more mainstream audiences, to the extent that your franchise will eventually have mainstream appeal. Of course, it does not always happen this way, particularly not if your storyworld is targeted at a very niche audience, but the important part is that the return on investment can be great with comparatively low financial risk if you start out small with your transmedia franchise in a way that monetizes each of your platforms accordingly.