This week at SXSW in Austin, Texas, King.com hosted a provocative panel addressing this question and others surrounding the topic of “TV Networks Extending Interactivity for Fans.”

Noah Hawley (@noahhawley), producer and writer behind shows including Bones, The Unusuals, and My Generation, provided insights on creating shows with interactivity baked in from the very beginning.  When fans are given the opportunity to continue experiencing with characters outside of the hour on TV, the show is given the extra support and interactivity needed to nurture a loyal and engaged following.

However, creating these additional touch-points can be expensive, especially when over 90% of all new shows fail on TV.

David Luner of Fremantle Media and Kris Soumas of A&E Television Networks addressed the other side of the argument, noting that shows are already expensive to produce, and advertising dollars are notoriously difficult to share amongst new vehicles such as interactive.  However, with that being said, David’s team at Fremantle is a shining example of how to successfully extend interactivity around a show, as exemplified in the smash hit American Idol.  In addition, David provided examples of how digital marketing was also successfully applied to other game shows, such as Family Feud.  Kris also noted that both social games and the mobile platform are increasingly important in the mix of a successful show, noting the tactics used by Parking Wars.

Owais Farooqui of King.com provided an example of how to monetize games that consumers often expect to be free.  Rovio’s Angry Birds, which recently received $42 million in Series A funding from Atomico, Accel and Felicas Ventures, actually makes more money on the free version of Angry Birds than the paid version because of advertising revenues and in-app purchases.  Owais also talked of the impact of cross-promotion of online properties and the TV show to cross-pollinate the user base and provide uplift of traffic for both properties.

The discussion clearly picqued the interest of the audience as the line-up for questions exceeded the time left in the session.  Moderator, Brad Stone of BusinessWeek/Bloomberg quipped that the panel was being Tweeted in several different languages as he watched the hashtag #GamesForTV appear on many Tweets during the session.

The conclusion of the panel is that transmedia strategies including social games and mobile experiences are increasingly critical in ensuring the ongoing success of TV properties, and need to be considered as part of the total brand so that the interactive component does not look “tacked on.”

Cooliris is sponsoring this year’s must-go party at SXSW, the Tech Cocktail Kickoff on Sunday, March 13th.  I’m looking forward to kicking up my heels in Austin!

Don’t forget to download the LiveShare by Cooliris app.  If you do and show it at the event, you may win prizes throughout the night and will have access to all the fabulous photos from the party.



I’m looking forward to this SXSW panel on Tuesday, March 14th at 11:00AM as industry experts gather to discuss, debate and explore how TV networks are leveraging interactivity and gaming to extend their brands to fans.


For decades, TV-show fans have sought ways to extend their connection to their favorite show characters with things like branded cereals, toys, board games, music or the like. Fans often can’t wait for the next episode and especially dread the time between seasons. They want to interact and even play along with their favorite shows. This is a reality that TV networks are creating through branded online games and social games.


The session will sample real case studies from experiences over several seasons with shows and branded games like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Biggest Loser, Survivor, and others. Panel members will also explore how games enable an additional channel for TV networks to reach global fans via social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Hi5 and Bebo, especially as we’re seeing games being the number one used applications on many social networks.


Topics will include:
  • Why are TV networks leveraging games to extend their brands to fans?
  • How are games enabling TV networks to extend their reach through global social networks like Facebook, Bebo, etc?
  • How have online games faired so far for promoting and extending TV show brands and what other industries can/will this trend extend to?
  • How have online games for TV shows affected the gaming industry?
  • What’s the next development for the online games and TV network partnerships?
Image by Theresa Thompson via Flickr

One of my fave peeps is Owais Farooqui, North America Managing Director of King.com.  He’s smart, nice and belly-achingly funny (no joke – he even appeared at the famous Laugh Factory in LA).

Owais is hoping to lead a panel at SXSW 2011, but he needs your vote in order to make it happen.

The panel he’s proposed will explore how TV networks are keeping fans engaged between episodes and seasons with quality online games that extend the show’s brand and interactivity – taking TV entertainment to the next level.

Panelists are voted in by popular demand so we’re really hoping you might take 1 minute and 43 seconds to complete these 2 steps:

Step 1 – create a SXSW account by clicking here:

Step 2 – vote for the ‘TV Networks Extending Interactivity for Fans’ panel by clicking here:

Voting ends on Friday, August 27, thus if you could help us out between now and then, we’d be forever in your debt (well, okay, maybe not forever, but at least for 1 minute and 43 seconds).

Owais is a great speaker and won’t let you down.  Please vote for him as Your Next American Idol (oops, wrong show).