Category Archives: cross_platform

channel 4 goes cross-platform

On the subject of major traditional media entities and cross-platform experimentation. Over in London last night Chris and I went to the launch event for Bow Street Runner, an online game launched by UK TV broadcaster Channel 4 to coincide with a major historical TV drama. Players explore 1754 London as one of the city’s first police officers, solving crimes and – it is hoped – picking up some historical brownie points along the way.
It’s interesting because Bow Street Runner is the first game to be launched by the channel, and represents a significant change in strategic direction. Channel 4’s public service obligations were hitherto tackled with the production of ‘educational’ (daytime) TV aimed at 14-19-year-olds and very occasionally, it seems, recorded by teachers for use in classrooms. Having realised that this approach was generating little interest, the channel’s Head of Education, Janey Walker, decided last year to shift the entire commissioning budget for educational material into cross-platform offerings.
Along with showing trailers for the game and introducing us to its creators, commissioning editor Matt Locke described how the channel’s new approach will in many cases reverse the typical 360-degree media approach – create some TV content, then tack on an ARG – opting instead to create cross-platform offerings with TV outputs as one element only. A number of ARGs and other offerings are scheduled for release later in the year.
Though it’s hardly the first time an ARG has been deployed by a major ‘traditional’ media company – after all, the first ARG to have any impact was intended as a trailer for the film AI – this entry into the space by a major TV channel promises to raise the profile (not to mention some much-needed financial backing) for the still very young world of cross-platform entertainment.
It’s early days yet, and Locke was frank about the experimental nature of this new approach. But it hints at a sea-change in mainstream recognition of the relative significances of online and other media – and, maybe, the potential for a wave of new, profoundly net-native entertainment.