The Benefits of Pitching a Cartoon with Transmedia Potential
“Cartoon Network is no longer just creating animated series, we are creating animated worlds. OK K.O.! is part of our new development strategy which brings a diverse array of creative and digital talent collaborations to the storytelling process.” – Rob Sorcher, Chief Creative Officer for Cartoon Network.
Transmedia is popular buzzword you’ll hear being thrown around a lot these days. Why? Because it boils down to getting the most bang out of your creation’s buck. (Stay with me now.) Transmedia the study of how intellectual property can spawn unique experiences on each modern platform, including streaming video, apps, graphic novels and more. By utilizing the strength of each platform, the story being told is enriched, and has the potential to capture the imagination of wider audiences in new and interesting ways. (Source)
Gone are the days when a cartoon lived only on chunky television sets. I hate to date myself, but back in my day, I had to wait until Saturday morning to catch my favorite cartoons!
There was no streaming video sites, no smartphone apps, no high-speed internet, and Video “On Demand” meant renting whatever was left on the shelf at the local Blockbuster Video. These days, any cartoon is just a few
screen swipes or keystrokes away. And it’s glorious.
As you continue to develop your idea, think about all the ways your audience will consume it. Games, books, webcomics, spin-off shows, record albums, Broadway musicals, and even themed hotels! The family television is usually the last option for today’s tech-savvy, gadget-wearing, ranting-on-the-web audience.
Think about how you follow your favorite shows. I keep up with my shows on Netflix, Youtube, On Demand, on my tablet, on my smartphone, at home, or on the road.
Know that your show could exist on any and every platform, on any sized screen.
Networks like Nickelodeon and Disney Channel have entire departments dedicated to creating online worlds based off their shows.
Even if the kids aren’t watching, they’re interacting–playing games, creating characters, or commenting about the content. Some even write their own fan-fiction!
To be blunt, it’s foolish not to consider how your show could live on multiple platforms. It’s also foolish to eat cat food if you’re not a cat, but that’s technically not against the law.
One way to ensure your idea has enough juice to sustain multiple lives on multiple platforms is by fleshing out the world of your show. You should have at least a basic idea of how everything beyond your main characters’ neighborhood works.
Think globally and concretely. For example, is there a shop in your show’s world that sells silly hats and is owned by a standout character? That scene-stealing character could break out and star in his/her own app or mini-game on the network’s website!
Take the Skylanders (or the recently axed Disney Infinity) franchises. Kids are spending serious money buying each character, vehicle, or accessory. Those franchises have a physical component that integrates with their ultra-successful games.