The Jericho Experience

The Jericho Experience

Adventures in Storytelling pt. 3 – The Jericho Experience
By Brian Seth Hurst

CBS Interactive’s The Jericho Experience at also had a deeply interactive audience that lived across platforms. Rich with features that grew over time, the experience included an original prequel “webumentary” called Countdown which took viewers through the expected real world consequences of a nuclear bomb drop. Executive Producers Stephen Chbosky, Carol Barbee and Jon Turtletaub were intimately involved in the process with Turtletaub writing scripts for the online community experience. As in the case of Heroes, a character was introduced on the web with a storyline and videos, who eventually crossed over to television. Though the site launched as promotion, it morphed into a Web 2.0 social community, and sustained the audience’s involvement during a 9 week winter hiatus.

Again the power of an interactive community was evident, especially when fans sent 50,000 pounds of nuts to CBS executives to protest the cancellation of the show. CBS then ordered seven additional episodes warning fans that ratings on TV must increase. But, if you were the creator or the producer of the world of Jericho, you might have to ask yourself… if that community is so active… is the television show as we know it really needed or was it just the flash point for a community that would congregate in a virtual Jericho world or a massive multiplayer online Jericho game either supported through subscription or in game advertising and product placement. This is where storytelling and opportunity converge.

But before we get into how you define those opportunities, there is a brilliant example of a well thought out cross media strategy and execution that is redefining what a television experience can be. You will notice that both the Heroes and Jericho examples use the word experience. That is the essence of the cross media challenge. To involve the audience through the creation of deeper richer experiences of the story, the characters and the community that builds itself around them. Then, both the story and the audience evolve together. Rather than the audience being passive they become your active partners. And hopefully passionate and loyal partners.

Previous “Birth of Cross Media Production” post
Next “Birth of Cross Media Production” post

Brian Seth Hurst is CEO of the Opportunity Management Company, Inc. a cross media strategy and production company. Hurst served two terms as Chairman of the Producers Guild of America New Media Council (’03-’05) while simultaneously serving on the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors. Currently, he is Second Vice Chair of the Television Academy and sits on the National Board of the PGA.