立 政 治 大 學
l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y
Chapter 1- Introduction
The following thesis will seek to take a detailed look at the potential use for transmedia storytelling in Taiwan’s television programs. First it will introduce in detail the key definitions and terminology for successful transmedia productions for television and motion pictures. After introducing the background of transmedia storytelling and the terms used to discuss it, a review of the benefits of using this type of production will be presented, and then the possibilities for this type of production in Taiwan will be
examined. Following this literature review, the problems, and research questions for this study will be defined in detail. The survey design and reasons will be clearly outlined before presenting and analyzing the data that was gathered. This analysis will then be applied to the theories and examples put forward in the literature review. This study should provide insight for professionals, academics, and policy makers who are interested in transmedia storytelling in Taiwan and the opportunities that it might present to various industries when used to enhance the way that stories are told on television.
1.1 Research Background and Motivations
A lot has been written about transmedia storytelling for U. S. and European television productions. Some researchers try to break down the successful productions into understandable formulas that can be used to craft future transmedia narratives.
Others try to trace a history of the organic rise of transmedia from the spread of technology and the connected audience. So far little has been written in the way of
measuring if there is indeed demand for the type of sprawling stories that are talked about in the literature about transmedia storytelling.
Because the author of this thesis is living in Taiwan, the motivation for this study is to measure if there is any demand for transmedia storytelling among Taiwan television audiences. Do consumers of television programs in Taiwan want to engage more with their favorite television programs? Is there a particular type of engagement that they are more interested in to learn about or explore their preferred programs more? By using the survey outlined in section 3.3 of this thesis, this thesis is trying to shed some light on the answers to the above questions and more.
This thesis relies on transmedia storytelling as defined by Henry Jenkins and his notion of extensions adding “distinct and valuable contributions” to a narrative (Jenkins, 2006). From the following literature review and section 2.4 on Taiwan’s tech and media environment, the author of this study expected to find that demand for this type of storytelling would be high. The general technological and media environment in Taiwan is perfect for the spread of multiplatform stories to emerge. One would think that in an environment with such high saturation of internet connectivity and smartphone usage, audiences would be very interested in engaging with their favorite shows on other platforms like Facebook, or dedicated mobile apps for extra content. It is definitely well suited for the same type of organic growth of transmedia engagement that was witnessed in the U.S.A. As people are more and more interested in consuming content on second screens in Taiwan, the type of “content anywhere” that Wachter explains in her book is the type of plan that producers in Taiwan should be striving to create (Wachter-Boettcher, 2012). Furthermore as section 2.4.1 mentions, there is also active government interest in promoting the type of creative digital content industries that go hand in hand with stories that spread across multiple mediums. This added benefit of having policymakers and government money interested in stimulating these types of productions are encouraging to someone looking at the viability of transmedia productions in Taiwan.
The data gathered from the survey employed in this research project was taken from average viewers of television programs in Taiwan. When the data from this survey was analyzed it became apparent that there is greater interest in engaging on some platforms over others. As section 4.2 shows there are types of extensions that are more likely to spur engagement by the respondents to this survey. Section 4.3 showed the types of secondary or tertiary platforms that are currently more favored to dig deeper into their preferred television programs.
As expected by the author, the data gathered and discussed in section 4.4 shows that if extensions are added in a way that furthers the audiences understanding of the narrative or the characters in it, they are more likely to engage with it. More than half of the
立 政 治 大 學
l C h engchi U ni ve rs it y
Future comparative research or more rigorous research into this question would be interesting for anyone interested in learning more about audience engagement with transmedia texts in general.
There are two main contributions that this thesis can give to the academic world and the professional world. Academically speaking, there has been little written in English about audience engagement with transmedia stories in Taiwan specifically.
Additionally, there is little to no research done looking into the demand for transmedia extensions in general. By designing this survey and conducting the research it is hoped that anyone interested in the topic of transmedia storytelling has further data to work with. It is also the authors hope that future research can build on this research.
From a professional or industry point of view the contributions of this research should be quite clear in three main areas. First, this thesis has conducted market research to show that audiences of television shows in Taiwan have a higher propensity to engage with some types of triggers over others. Second, the data shows that certain platforms are favored over others for this engagement. Finally, it is shown that if the content developed for these extensions adds to a deeper meaning or understanding of the principal narrative, more people will engage with it. It is the hope of this author that would-be producers of transmedia content in Taiwan can use this research to make more successful productions with deep engagement from their audiences.
立 政 治 大 學