Sunday, March 1, 2009

Convergence Culture: Reflection

For my midterm project I read Henry Jennkin's Convergence Culture. Convergence is something that is at the forefront of many a television conversation in this age of multimedia platforms and increasing technological capabilities.
Jenkin's book was broken down into chapters that served as case studies for how convergence has already played a factor in certain media cases. The first three chapters on Survivor, American Idol, and The Matrix, were by far the most interesting parts of the book. They showed how in today's entertainment environment, the audience is as important part of the media as the media itself. Content is, and should, be consumer driven. American Idol is almost entirely driven by viewer desires, and as a result becomes more engaging for audiences. This extra engagement can have a number of consequences, most importantly on advertising. Advertisers want consumer engagement and are willing to pay top dollar for a product that can deliver some sort of interactivity in hopes that branding will be more effective. In American Idol Coca-Cola and Ford are just two of the major companies that have found the show's interactivity to be a successful marketing strategy.
I didn't just want to read the book to say I read it. My goal was to try and see how the concepts Jenkin's referred to throughout could be applied at WOLV. While obviously we have budget, technological, and a myriad of other limitations that don't effect the examples given in the book, we do share a number of the basic principles in common.
Our sexual health show, Turned On, is the best example of this. The show features live call-ins (viewer engagement) and as a result much of the content is consumer driven. The key is providing audiences with continued engagement after the show has gonee off-air. To test this, we have established an AIM user name where throughout the week people can instant message their questions, comments, etc. to one of our "sexperts" when they are online. One of the hosts continues to use this online system during the airing of the show so that viewers can participate while watching as well.
The show also has a blog where extra content posts are put up each week to reward viewers who are looking for bonus material. While this is less interactive, it still provides a content push similar to those Jenkin's referred to in his case studies.
I really feel like WOLV is moving on the right track with our new multi-media endeavors.