Why Transmedia? Temporal and Emotional ROI

Why transmedia? (Note: This is the first part of my ‘Why Transmedia?’ series. Please click to access Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.)

Well, first of all, because it’s FUN.

Depending on the type and intricacies of a transmedia universe, it can be one of the best puzzles you’ll ever solve. In a good story universe, you have an immense number of stories and characters inviting you to learn about them, and in a good transmedia universe, this learning happens on many different media platforms where the unique properties of each platform are deliberately used to allow the consumer to experience the different parts of a story the most meaningful way possible. While such great story universes used to be reserved for ‘geeks’ belonging to super-fandoms such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Buffy, The Matrix, etc., recent developments in media (old and new) have made meta-narratives a lot more appealing to mainstream audiences as well (you can find the reason for this below).

But aside from the consumption experience, it also presents the artist and/or author with truly amazing opportunities. Rather than being restricted to just one medium, they can now expand their content far and wide, creating an entirely new entertainment experience for consumers. Artists/authors can truly let their inspiration and imagination go wild, without the need to conform to the format of one media platform.

 

Transmedia Possesses a Great Temporal and Emotional ROI

This is one of the most crucial aspects in consumption decision making nowadays. Entertainment, like many other industries, has become a zero-sum market in the Western world, meaning that the number of media outlets (supply) expands rapidly, while the number of consumers and the time they have at their hands (demand) remains the same. There are no more new audiences to capture; instead, entertainment producers must now ‘steal’ or poach consumers from their competitors whilst retaining the audience they already have. Transmedia storyworlds are a great way of doing both – poaching and retaining consumers. Transmedia universes require consumers to invest both time and actual attention (to understand the world, characters, and relationship) on a continuing basis.

As a result, consumers become increasingly loyal to a transmedia franchise; the more they have invested already, the least likely they are to abandon a universe they know so well, and which they often share with so many others around them. Research from all fields has shown how deep the human desire for the familiar and the well-known is. Given the sheer extent of a well-executed transmedia world, this desire for familiarity and consumers’ constant evaluations of “Am I getting my time’s worth for this entertainment product?” are key factors that make transmedia one of the most viable and long-lasting entertainment business strategies in the 21st century.

BUT BEWARE: As it has been said to many previous times by transmedia professionals – all transmedia wisdom and strategizing means nothing if the story behind it does not deliver, if it lacks artistic and entertainment value. In transmedia, content is truly king.