Emmys acknowledge role of digital platforms

Emmys acknowledge interactive (Academy of Arts and Sciences)This year I sat in on the blue ribbon panel for judging the final winners of 2009 Emmy Awards for Creative Achievement in Interactive Media for Fiction and Non-Fiction.  As a member of the executive committee for the Interactive Media Peer Group for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, it’s been a big year for interactive plays in all television content.

As announced earlier this summer, below are the 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominees for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media:

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Fiction
The Dharma Initiative • DharmaWantsYou.com • ABC Entertainment Marketing, Hoodlum
The Office Digital Experience • NBC.com
The 30 Rock Digital Experience • NBC.com

Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media – Nonfiction
Bravo Digital Media: Top Chef • Bravo.com • Bravo Digital Media
The Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Digital Experience • NBC.com
The Saturday Night Live Digital Experience • NBC.com

The one you may not recognize if you’re not a Lost fan is the Dharma Initiative, this was a Website launched as part of the new Lost alternate reality game running during the hiatus between seasons four and five.  The game featured a pre-launch at Comic-Con and had participants taking an aptitude test, used email of newsletters to get folks involved with directions for different activities as well as a continual launch of videos and other content.  Very original content for a very original show.

It’s also clear from the nominated programs that NBC has made the role of interactive a priority in all of their shows, it’s relevance being elevated from a “maybe” to a “must have.”

All the other properties had a few things in common which brought them to the winner’s circle:
1) Cross platform integration of content -  Broadcast and Web content pushed pack and forth on each other with the linear broadcast only being one piece of the entire content story.
2)Off-season use of the Web to continue plot and subplot lines, introduce new characters, set up new stories for the next season
3)Mobile implementations that allowed for engagement on the road
4)Solicitation of audience participation for content generation, story participation, and a bit of consumer research.

What was also remarkably different this year was the discussions with the producers of the nominated shows about how they are now actively working with marketers. The interactive producers are no longer begging the traditional show runners for content to use but are actively participating in the direction of the show, the interactive media’s role in the linear show’s broadcast, and in coordinating talent to create original content for Web and mobile platforms.

On the marketing side, the interactive platforms are no longer being “tossed” in as part of a larger upfront deal but are playing into the costing of a marketing buy.  Quite often the linear broadcast advertiser’s content is synchronized to the content on the other platforms for more user engagement and ad recall.