Interactive Television – It’s In Your Hands

People talk a lot about the future of interactive television, and how new platforms and technologies are changing the experience of viewing. But as always with new technologies, the most interesting uses are springing not from the companies and producers, but from the end user – the television audience.

ITV’s excellent new drama Broadchurch seems to have spawned one of the more interesting ideas so far. Fans of the show have set up ‘parody accounts’ on Twitter in the name of the main characters, and are discussing among themselves – in character – the possible identity of the killer. Other Twitter users can ask them questions and tease them about their onscreen behavior. And there’s a good amount of humour from everyone at the expense of the characters and the premise, setting and plot of the show, of course!

So now you can watch an episode of the show, while accounts purporting to be the characters themselves comment on events and on each other’s behaviour and motivations on Twitter.

This isn’t an approach that would work for all stories, and it’s dependent on the wit and the ‘acting’ ability of the fans running the accounts – the Broadchurch accounts do a good job of staying in character and capturing the serious-but-wryly-amusing tone of the series, but it’s easy to imagine this done really badly.

That said, it’s a fascinating example of a way fans can not only engage with the show, but actually add a new layer of enjoyment and engagement for other viewers. The core of television – a story that’s told to you, like primitive man gathered at the feet of the storyteller – is preserved, and technology provides an optional enhancement for those who want it. Surely that’s the balance that will prove to be the future of interactivity?