Why Your Online TV Plan Isn’t Working


By David Hemingway

June 12, 2007 – Simply putting TV content online doesn't equal an automatic success. Vimation's CEO explains how to take advantage of online's ability to make TV more compelling. There is a big push by TV broadcasters to get their shows online as a way for people to watch their favorite program if they missed it on television in order to keep their audience interested and loyal. One network has said that it has had success with people going to the internet to watch its TV programming. That is terrific. But, unfortunately, this is a short-term fix to address the current "watch a video" trend attracting the non-TV fan of the show.

If you take a look at the average fan of a TV show, there is a high likelihood that he has either watched the show on TV or recorded it via TiVo or DVR. Why would an existing fan go online to just see a rebroadcast of the same show, on a smaller screen with less picture quality? Effectively, with putting the same show online, the TV networks are not even catering to their current audience.

For networks to take advantage of their shows' online presence, they can't make the mistake of assuming that if you take content from TV and put it online, it will automatically be successful. The main reason is the consumer expectation between TV and the internet is vastly different. At a basic level, consumers do not expect to lean back in their chairs and watch their computers!

What the networks -- and anyone else that has programming on TV -- need to be doing online is looking at the experience differently and providing an enhanced interactive experience where the audience is rewarded for going online. Viewers are rewarded by getting the opportunity to consume more of the show than what is on TV. Why not leverage the show online to make the show even more compelling to watch on TV?

What's beautiful about the online environment is that it offers the ability to act on the question: How can I tell the TV show's story even better to my audience? Now you can start acting on the best way to enhance the show by providing your audience with additional, related information. Make the show bigger than the actual episode itself by creating greater depth, more understanding, more places for the audience to emotionally connect to the show and get more involved.

Enhance a TV show online

Most everyone wants more information about what's behind the main event. And the more interested you are in something, the more information and content you want. That is the opportunity online, if you think of video differently than it is used on TV. This additional information in the form of content doesn't need to be web-specific to successfully enhance the show. It's already available and just needs to be presented in a way to create a multi-layered experience to enhance the show's presentation.

    Some examples of additional content to enhance the show include:
  • Offering a short clip of the director or writer talking about the storyline, characters, challenges, et cetera.
  • Offering behind-the-scene footage of interviews with the actors about their characters, the location the show is shot, et cetera.
  • Highlighting objects in the show (like an Easter Egg) that may have extra relevance or provide additional insight into the show's storyline.
  • Offering background and bios of main characters in the show.
  • Offering interesting facts about the show.

The key is to provide any additional content through the video itself to take advantage of the power of video presentation and allow the user to choose to act on seeing the additional content. This can be done by showing another related video in a second slide out video screen, displaying images (such as a slide show of photos) and/or just text as an overlay or in a side panel. It's not good enough just to have a link somewhere else on the page to get to additional content. The true power comes from the audience interacting directly with the show to get the additional information, to lean forward and become more and more engaged with the show online.

We were involved in creating an online interactive video presentation for a new TV show. To generate additional interest, the show's promo reel was set up to allow users to click on the video to see behind the scenes video footage of the director talking about shooting in HD, videos of the actors discussing their characters and related storyline, as well as additional sub clips of the show. The amount of activity with those enhanced content features was amazing!

Not taking advantage of the interactive nature of the computer is a fundamental flaw to most all current video strategies and implementations. People that are on the net don't want to sit back and watch their computer. That is what they do when they watch TV.

Remember, what makes things interesting is when you get to peek behind the curtain!