Broadcast Blog – How to Pitch Transmedia

Posted on: Sunday 03 July 2011 1:41am

Triona Campbell, Managing Director, beActive

Triona Campbell will be participating in the New Frontiers in Storytelling session at the Children’s Media Conference, which takes place in Sheffield between 6-8 July.   

The myth of the Transmedia commissioners 

So you have the most amazing transmedia project and a meeting with a potential financier – how do you pitch it?

The truth is you don’t.  There are no transmedia commissioners (in my opinion, yet). 

Even public service broadcasters who have print, radio, online and TV platforms are not ideally placed to be transmedia commissioners.  The reality is each department is only focused on its own needs so as a result it is almost impossible to sell and develop a project that involves all the in-house media and departments.

The reality is you will find that instead there are either broadcasters who will give you the same budget as before but in addition ask you for transmedia content (at no additional cost to themselves) or there are broadcasters with online departments who commission small web only projects independently in a bid to reach the generation of Millennials who aren’t loyal to the TV platform. Then there are brands that sponsor online series, mainly for internet distribution and integrated into their marketing mix.

So how to get your transmedia project onto a platform?

Pitch what you know the other side can buy and only what they can buy (make it as easy as possible for them to say yes without having to have a second meeting and bring in someone from online/ mobile or another department).

What this means – if it’s a meeting with a portal, just pitch the online elements. The second you mention TV the portal will start to think “Hmm…maybe I should wait till the series has a TV date before I come on board” or worse “Hmm… if it crosses to TV should I get part of that revenue?”

When pitching to TV – just pitch the TV elements.  The broadcaster’s first priority is still to broadcast programming on TV.  The second the broadcaster thinks that the online department should be in the meeting it becomes “Should online commission this or should I?” and when you talk about the roll out strategy all the TV broadcaster will hear is “More money, more time, more hassle to get internal sign off, more resources that I don’t have.” 

Upshot – pitch what the funder, broadcaster or possible distribution partner knows how to buy and in the language they understand.  Once the contract is signed you can mention the rest of the great strategy you have in place.

Pitch at a budget level you know the other side can fund.  Do your research; what did they spent on the last few commissions – that’s the budget level you pitch to.  There is no magic budget for transmedia.  I started in the industry working for Roger Corman – if you only had the budget to shoot for 5 days you figured out how to tell the best possible story in those 5 days and shot it.

Avoid the checklist – Just because everyone else has a Facebook fan page, Twitter account, mobile app, podcasts and webisodes it doesn’t mean that your story needs that.  The transmedia needs to be organic to the story you want to tell.  The audiences you’re dealing with are smart.  They can identify what is organic to the story, what doesn’t make sense and what disrupts their experience.

As a transmedia producer it’s your job to devise the roll out strategy of how you tell your story across the multiple platforms and to make sure your team knows how this will come together.  It’s also your job to pitch and bring on board the individual partners (online, print, radio, TV etc.).

At beActive, we have created and launched transmedia series from the UK to Ireland, Brazil and China working mainly with brands and advertisers, starting online and then crossing to other platforms including TV and radio.  In that time I have come across only one transmedia commissioner – the Brazilian Oi Telecom, for whom we created the thriller “Final Punishment”.  Oi was one of the rare cases where the client truly wanted content that could work across all the platforms they own (mobile, online, TV, radio).  It was our only transmedia commission since we started in this market in 2003. I honestly think transmedia commissioners are a myth, it hasn’t happened (yet). 

What has happened is we now have clever transmedia producers who know how to work the existing system to tell stories across multiple platforms and they are leading this revolution.  Content needs to be commissioned by the platforms where the audience is consuming it (and not just as TV series or feature films) because possibly more than one third of the audience for those platforms is not there any more. 


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