You, a Fan, can now be intricately involved in the way television gets made. You can get behind the scenes, between the story-lines and perhaps even onto the small screen itself. How can this be possible?
The game has changed and television is no longer by necessity a purely passive viewing experience. Social media has created new pathways of engagement, connecting you the fan directly to the people who are making your television show.
It’s a new conversation and a new way of engaging with the content; you have a voice and what you say matters.
Have you ever died your own thousand deaths when the network spontaneously killed off your favorite character? Were you heartbroken when your daily letters of complaint and your endless pleas for his or her resurrection remained unanswered?
What if they were listening?
Here is the good news: Mr. Eko from LOST may not have to die anymore. Well, not unless you say he does.
As you watch TV episodes online you can now become part of the story itself. Let me draw the dimensions of this brave new world.
IT’S THE CONTENT THAT CONNECTS US
We connect best with others through things we have in common. And so it is the content (the TV shows we can watch online) that connects us with other fans and invites us towards active engagement and conversation.
One of the most immediate ways in which you, a user are stirred into action is through the creation of television stories which are enigmatic in nature. For example, LOST. You are provoked to try and answer the following types of questions:
- What has happened?
- What is happening?
- What will happen?
- Where are they?
- Who is behind it all?
Discussions then spring up in online forums surrounding these types of questions, as fans like you and I join forces and attempt to find the answers. You are now “actively” involving your imagination in the story.
All the major networks (NBC, FOX, ABC) provide discussion boards (forums) alongside their video players where you cannot only watch TV on your pc but you can also talk about the show with other fans.
Other places of engagement also spring up on other blogs, forums and platforms; the conversation is not controlled, the conversation is everywhere. But you can be sure that the TV Show’s Producers are listening; knowing their audience tastes can only help them to create better content.
Watching TV on a PC provides you with the opportunity to interact and engage with your favorite shows in several different ways, discussing the content with other fans is only the first step in this rapidly evolving interactive world.
THE ADVANTAGES OF WATCHING TV ON YOUR PC
Traditionally on television only one story is being told, and that is the story that everyone is watching. The online interactive TV experience however opens up several different avenues for other stories to be told.
These stories include:
- The stories centered on content creation.
- The stories of the Fans.
The advantage of the personal computer and a video platform is that it provides a place or medium where these stories can be told.
I want to look briefly at these two types of stories and highlight how fans can interact with them online.
THE STORY OF HOW THE CONTENT IS BEING CREATED
An obvious example of these types of stories is the “behind the scenes” footage interviews on reality television shows like NBC’s “The Voice.” Here you get to know the thoughts, feeling and emotions of the major players as they prepare to perform.
You get information that helps you to imagine what it would be like to be on the show yourself; this information heightens and enriches your emotional experience while watching the show. It’s a behind the scenes expose into what is actually going on.
This also happens in fictional television shows. On Fox’s GLEE, you can go online on your PC and watch behind the scenes video extras as well as read blogs back grounding both the characters and the actors themselves.
LOST did a great job of involving their fans in these kind of stories, enabling their fans to hunt for story clues and share their findings. They also ran a LIVE online auction where Fans could bid for props and wardrobe items.
Other examples of these types of stories include director’s commentaries, interviews with writers and other key players.
THE STORY OF THE FANS
The ability to tell the story of the fans is one of the most fascinating aspects to the evolving world of online television. It’s your story. It’s the story of what you (we) are doing, feeling, and imagining while watching your favorite TV show.
Herein lies the amazing world of user-generated content.
ABC’s Modern Family does a great job of encouraging their fans to tell their own stories. They encourage you to create a video of yourself sitting on your own couch (like the characters on the show) telling a funny story about your own family. Their favorite five videos are streamed on their video platform, people vote and the winner takes his funny family off to a sun-baked beach in Hawaii for a vacation. It’s a great source of new storylines for the content creators too.
Twitter streams are now common practice on reality shows like the Fox Network’s X-FACTOR, your comments, feelings, likes and dislikes can be streamed real time and be integrated into the story of the live show.
The story of “what we like” is commonly placed on reality contestant shows. Who we vote for decides the outcome of the story.
Could this possibly happen on our favorite fictional TV shows too?
THE FUTURE OF WATCHING TV EPISODES ONLINE
What if you could choose a storyline on a TV show? What if you have your favorite actor say a line of dialogue that you created? What if that video of you singing could get you cast on your favorite show?
For the Fan, the opportunities for involvement are only increasing in possibility; AND the good news is, the networks are beginning to realize the great value of you, the empowered online fan.
Your opinion matters, in fact your opinion, your feelings, your experiences, and your life are becoming part of a bigger mosaic; a much more intricately woven set of stories.
Welcome to a creative global television mash up where your favorite character doesn’t have to die just because a network executive in a suit thinks that it would be good for ratings. You can petition for his life, you can create an online buzz that insists in his or her resurrection. It’s not their show anymore. It’s yours.
Welcome to the future of television.
And so in finishing this post my question to you is this… In your opinion which TV character should never have been killed off?