Apologies that it’s been so long since my last blog – things have been busy with a rather exciting development project we’ve secured with a broadcaster. I’m sworn to silence on that for now, but I can talk about this…
Yesterday the good and the great of the digital world came together at Horseferry Road to hear Channel 4’s vision for creating a new type of relationship with the viewer, and a new relationship with new suppliers.
The changing viewer relationship is about the shift to personalisation – from a homogenised mass audience all seeing the same ads or being offered the same catch-up content when they logon to 4oD for example, to a bespoke and immersive experience with the Channel 4 network – what they call ‘4D’: feeling part of television.
This data-driven vision will be realised by the creation of a universal registration system across Channel 4’s assets, plus the creation of new truly-2-way multiplatform television formats that both capture data and enhance the viewer experience (or should I say ‘fan’/’customer’ experience).
Truly interactive, immersive and personalised formats are a key plank in that virtuous circle that satisfies the fans, delivers value to advertisers, and ultimately delivers investment back into the creative sector.
So who is the creative sector that Channel 4 is looking to engage? It’s been pretty widely recognised that the network has had a dependence on the super-indie suppliers, but now there are signs that’s changing. We’ve heard it before for sure, but they’ve actually put money down to spend on this cause – in the convergence fund and for the smallest and newest suppliers: the Alpha Fund. On forging new supplier relationships and boosting the supply of ideas head of online Richard Davidson-Houston said:
“We don’t believe in a hierarchy of TV and other platforms – a multiplatform TV format can come from a digital company… we are looking for new ways to tell stories… and we want ideas and stories from new sources”.
This was backed up by commissioning editor for convergent formats Anna Cronin and multiplatform commissioning lead Louise Brown who reiterated good ideas can come from anywhere, and they see a big part of their remit as partnering the people who think up great ideas with the people that are great at building stuff. Collaboration is the future of new formats – it’s a good challenge to the big proprietary super-indie business model of recent years.
So, what ideas do they want?
Well often they know it when they see it but the headlines for me were that for convergent formats there’s an urgent call for ideas now… the thing that differentiates a convergent format from a multiplatform commission is that these are future formats that can’t be delivered right now – because the technology isn’t there yet for example. It’s about the next evolution of the TV format, pure experimentation, and something that if it went further down the line wouldn’t be realised on screen until at least 2013.
Multiplatform commissioning needs on the other hand are more immediate – with development funds available this year leading to commissions throughout 2012. Key bullet points are: ambitious, simple and clear, audience behaviour driven, entertaining, risky, bringing in great talent from UX people to games developers. Key genre needs are new access and formats for features, funny games/quizzes for entertainment, ideas to get the public excited and engaged with Channel 4′s paralympics coverage in 2012, and in news something defining to set the pace.