21st Century Story Development: Know Your Audience

Hollywood no longer needs to work so hard to lead audiences to story …

…. Because today audiences can lead Hollywood to future success stories!

k48byeHere in the 21st century, storytellers don’t need to wait for audience testing to see how audiences respond and react to their story. Audiences are connected, vocal and living in digital spaces allowing for storytellers to get to know their audience early and to use this information to help guide the development of story and cross-platform story experiences that resonate and move audiences.

UnknownIn the past, a story was written and produced then handed over to marketing executives to sell the story to audiences. Then they would test the story to find out what audiences are and are not liking, tailor the marketing campaign to highlight what a particular audience will like in hopes of gaining their attention when the story premieres on TV, in theaters, etc.

Today, stories can emerge in development based on knowing the types of stories audiences are already attracted to. Audiences are living digital lives that make their story choices, behaviors and opinions accessible to help guide producers in developing successful stories. There is no reason to wait until after production dollars have been spent because you can check in with audiences early, in development.

What does this mean?

It means that in development, identify the audience you want to reach, get to know them via an audience discovery process that analyzes hard data, psychometrics and social metrics. The insights gleaned from this stage then becomes the compass that guides story development and audience engagement that results in the creation of successful story properties.

It’s working for Netflix. Their original show House of Cards emerged from data that showed Netflix’ customers liked the UK’s House of Cards, Kevin Spacey and binge viewing. Poof! Instant success, achieved in development by using data that showed them who their audience was, how they consume story and what stories they liked.

Another indication that in 21st century storytelling the audience matters and listening to them is critical for success!

 

The Evolution of TV: Is “House of Cards” a TV Show or a Book (What!?!)?

House-of-Cards-PosterAs “TV shows” begin to release via digital distribution models (such as House of Cards), it begs the question, “Are these shows still TV shows?” The phrase “TV show” refers to the medium that the story is being released on  (TV), so can House of Cards be considered a TV show when it’s released digitally? As more and more stories are crafted for digital distribution, can we continue to call them TV shows?

For the purpose of fitting into an existing industry model Netflix would want House of Cards to be called a TV show. In order to be considered for awards such as the Emmy’s, they need to adhere to the old model and call themselves a TV show. But if we are to evolve towards embracing new modes of story telling, can we really continue to call House of Cards a TV show?

“Episodics” and Binge Viewing

It would be more apropos to consider House of Cards an “episodic” than a TV show. Digital episodic storytelling is more like storytelling via books as the story is told in chapters (or episodes), and the viewer can consume one episode at a time or one after another. Continue reading

Monetizing New Hollywood = Audience Satisfaction

imagesHow do you monetize the new Hollywood? I believe there are several answers to this daunting question (depending on IP, existing business models, etc.), but the foundation of where sustainable answers will evolve can be found in building models that are in favor of the audience.

What?! Give the audience power?!

For many who have worked a long time in the entertainment industry, this is an insane idea to wrap their heads around. This industry has spent the last 100 years telling the world what stories to consume and how to consume them. Audiences had no other choice but to accept our models if they wanted to be entertained.

Well, that is not the case anymore. Hollywood no longer owns the marketplace on storytelling Continue reading

Story Entrepreneurs: Leading the Future of Storytelling

In a digital age where everything is shifting every day, the future of storytelling will rely on the leadership of, what I term, story entrepreneurs. These are people who are bold enough to take risks on developing, creating & supporting untraditional storytelling.

Story entrepreneurs are filmmakers, start-up CEO’s, venture capitalists and studio execs. I must say that I have an incredible amount of respect for studio exec story entrepreneurs who are willing to boldly take risks on untraditional storytelling which seem “crazy” to those within the traditional media system that surrounds them day in and day out.  That kind of risk taking is the leadership we need in shaping the future of storytelling. Continue reading