Transmedia narratives – the future of television

Many in the industry claim television has long been dead. Very likely it already is in the last of its dying breaths. However, video-based entertainment will not die out. In fact videos garner an average of 8 billion views every day on Facebook alone. But how can these short videos be connected? The answer is transmedia narratives.


What are transmedia narratives?

A transmedia narrative – a story transcending one platform. Technically, Harry Potter is a transmedia narrative, considering there is a book series, a film series, video games, a theme park and much more. However, rather than having different parts of the story spread out on different platforms, the same story is being told over and over again. The transmedia narrative I am talking about is the former version, where one story is told on different platforms.

An example for this is characters having their own Twitter, Facebook or other social media accounts, where they post about the events in their lives in real-time and in some cases even interact with the audience. Therefore, consuming the story becomes part of everyday experiences, such as checking Twitter.

An often-cited example are The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. The basis is a web series, which tells the story of Pride and Prejudice in a modern setting, where Lizzie vlogs about her life. Lizzie and other characters have Twitter accounts, from which they tweet about their lives in real-time. They also interact with each other in this manner, adding more depth to the characters and their development. Meanwhile, Lydia starts vlogs of her own when her storyline begins taking centre-stage.


Why is not everyone doing it?

Unfortunately, such an elaborate transmedia narrative takes considerable time and therefore costs money, which is why many producers still shy away from commissioning such pieces. Some people also doubt if the audience is ready for such a type of narrative. I would argue yes. Perhaps in a world of Netflix and binge watching, the time lines will have to be adjusted but the times where a TV series was only on TV is long gone.


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