On a difference between TV and Radio online

In the pub last night, Jonathan made a very good point, I thought, about one of the differences between TV and radio production teams and their approach (and/or ability) when it comes to online – and why, historically, radio has tended to have a much closer relationship with Web teams.

The reason being, simply, that the proportion of live to pre-recorded shows on TV and radio is significantly different – almost opposite, most probably. Radio typically has a lot more live, or very-nearly-live, output, and thus the production teams are still around and engaged around the time of broadcast. Therefore, they are much more likely to be interested in committing resources to improving the available information about their programme online.

In contrast, TV production teams are, more often than not, completely disbanded, or at least concerned with a completely different piece of production, by the time transmission comes around. Thus, there is, if not less impetus and drive, certainly less possibility of being able to commit resource to supporting the actual broadcast.

Which is a shame, really. Because despite this difference in production practices, I don’t think that should be a barrier to becoming more engaged in creating experiences online. This isn’t an intrinsic, insurmountable barrier. It’s just that we need to adjust our mind-set and processes – both on the tech and production sides, and engage at the right time.

The difference doesn’t mean it’s impossible for TV to catch up with radio in this way, but it means we all need to be considering not only how we make new formats for TV shows, nor how we package up, distribute and explore existing content, but how we really integrate with production teams and work together to create a single experience.

The fact that a standard approach to getting tech involved with production processes tends to side more with broadcast technology, and/or smoothing the production process itself, is not a bad thing per se, but why not consider the eventual audience of the production at this stage, too? After all, the rest of the production team is already taking this into account – set design, lighting, scriptwriting – all of these balance the need to make production as easy as possible, with the ultimate goal of conveying something to the audience. It’s the latter which we take for granted as our mission when considering traditional ‘web applications’ and so on, but not when we think about getting involved with production teams themselves.

I’ve always been a proponent of getting tech teams much more involved in the production process – harnessing what we can from the exhaust (and, perhaps, the energy within) from production. Cast lists, locations, there is a wealth of data there which is not only useful from a production workflow and archiving point of view, but things that could provide real audience benefits, far beyond the easy to see but niche ‘location spotting’ uses. Yes, this has been the realm of massive IT projects in the past, but their fortunes shouldn’t dictate whether or not we at least attempt to do something in this area, on a more sustainable, smaller, dare I say more agile scale in the future.

1 Comment

  1. Great post Paul. So if we took a show like Dr. Who or Sherlock – what kind of digital experiences do you think we could produce?

    I agree, radio is so much more experimental when it comes to digital – although I’d like to see more focus around drama which seems to be taking a right kicking these days.

    I remember the days of Hitch Hikers and Lord of the Rings on Radio – they we so incredible, but I’ve not heard anything like that recently – am I looking in the wrong place? #innernerd


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