The marketability of transmedia storytelling
The term “transmedia storytelling” is already widely used in certain business circles today. The concept is relatively simple, an embodiment of the storytelling that occurs through multiple forms of media, its goal being decentralized authorship and transmedia experimentation.
There are two main factors that drive transmedia storytelling: one is the spread of new forms of media such as video games, the Internet, and mobile platforms, and the demand they create; the other is the economic incentives offered to media creators who share their digitalized property online. By definition, transmedia storytelling is shared through multiple media platforms, and new text must clearly contribute value to the overall story. According to Henry Jenkins, in ideal transmedia storytelling, every individual form of media must be aesthetically complete, and each platform must be self-sufficient.
In other words, a consumer must be able to enjoy a video game without seeing the movie, and vice versa. Here we can witness the rising importance of content production and sharing, the act of consumption, over a specific media platform. Originally, the idea of transmedia referred to expanding the reach of television shows through various media platforms developed through new technology, a behavioral change where users and content moved fluidly among multiple forms of different but related media.
The manner in which transmedia storytelling offers consumers new experiences and insights indicates that it is capable of attracting a diverse range of consumers. The subtext of this relationship is that the economic value of transmedia storytelling lies in its ability to create value. Building a world that then inspires multiple stories for the consumer to choose from—that is where transmedia storytelling’s marketability lies.
Transmedia storytelling’s unique ability to utilize various forms of media to broaden consumer choice, to provide content that is both familiar and yet new, gives it remarkable potential as a marketing strategy. And for the consumer to properly engage with a narrative created by transmedia storytelling, it is necessary to move among multiple media platforms and contribute to the available information and knowledge about the story.
However, these traits of transmedia storytelling also hold the potential to have a negative effect on marketability, namely because not all consumers are willing to navigate several platforms in order to fully understand a narrative world. As information and content related to a story begins to multiply, that story risks morphing into an entity that only holds appeal for a small group of cult fans rather than the masses. For transmedia storytelling to reach its market potential, then, it is important to offer a story that will inspire consumers to actively participate in the larger network of content.