User-Influenced Content: The G4 Example

The Hollywood Reporter discusses a speech given by Neal Tiles, G4‘s president, at the Museum of Television & Radio’s Industry Forum Luncheon in Beverly Hills.

“Young male viewers have “fundamentally left” linear television (i.e. TV scheduled for you by the network), but cable network G4 is working to overcome this by keeping that demo engaged in the brand with an assortment of interactive programming. Tiles said G4’s deals with its affiliates don’t allow it to offer full-length episodes of shows online and that nonlinear media is not yet at a stage where it can be monetized. So G4 is focusing its efforts on its linear programming, looking to keep the interest of young-male viewers with highly interactive shows.”
“We’re allowing viewers to influence content — it’s not user-generated content, but letting viewers influence the content so we retain some control, and it’s more enjoyable than when viewers are 100% in control,” Tiles said. Such programming includes the interactive series “Star Trek 2.0,” where viewers can play the “Spock Market” real-time stock exchange, learn obscure facts that are streamed during the episode and chat about the show, and the upcoming “Star Trek: The Next Generation 2.0.” Tiles said G4 is looking to do something similar with its recent acquisition, “Cops,” as well.
Tiles added that studying how the network’s target demo of males 18-34 consumes media — on multiple platforms — offers an insightful peek into the future. “It’s akin to peering into the future because this is how every demo is going to be consuming media in the future,” he said. “It’s a valuable learning lesson.”
From their Web site, here is a description of G4’s target market: “G4 embraces the male 18-34 audience and their fascination with video games, the Internet, broadband, technology, comics and animation. Additionally, G4 provides breaking news and insider opinions on these topics as well as the broader culture young men are interested in.”

What it means: a couple of insights: first, I love the concept of user-influenced content as opposed to user-generated content. It’s much more reassuring to traditional media companies. It’s also a good way to start leveraging user content without “giving inmates the keys to the asylum”. Even Digg.com has moderators! Second, I like how G4 is trying to leverage interactive media as a support to it’s linear programming. Given their current legal constraints with the shows they’ve picked up (can’t broadcast on the Internet, bla, bla, bla), it’s the best they can do at this point as they don’t own much of their current programming. So, in effect, their interactive media is actually becoming original programming!

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