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Developing Factual Ideas

How to Pitch 360 Degree Content


Photo by gadl CC BY-SA 2.0

A Sheffield Doc/Fest panel of multiplatform commissioning editors and producers talked about developing and pitching 360 degree content (i.e. content that exists on more than one platform: TV, online, books, DVD, live events, YouTube, Facebook etc).

The panel included:

* Lyndsay Duthie (etv productions)
* Nick Cohen (BBC Multiplatform commissioner)
* James Penfold (etv productions)
* Matt Locke (Commissioning Editor for Education and New Media at Channel 4)
* Jane Mote (UKTV Director of lifestyle, factual and new media, UKTV)

Here are their top tips:

  1. Understanding multiplatform isn’t as complicated as you might think: Jane Mote suggested thinking about how you consume online media yourself, rather than getting overwhelmed by the technicalities. And “honesty about what you don’t know is the best policy,” she said. Matt Locke advised that you just go out there and explore what’s already out there.
  2. Good multiplatform content has the same elements as linear TV: strong stories, memorable characters and expert presenters. Matt said that good story telling was the main priority.
  3. Know you can make it or find someone who can: Matt suggested finding  a digital production agency to partner with if you are worried about producing content for online. Nick Cohen added that TV producers who pitch online content as part of their offer get first refusal on making it, but they may choose to sub-contract it out to a digital producer (independent or in-house at the BBC).
  4. Don’t over promise: Jane Mote said that producers often promise  a lot but don’t think through how they are going to deliver what they are offering. Make sure you already have the stories, access and talent you are pitching.
  5. Don’t forget to budget for it: Jane said that if you are offering online content, interviews, and blogs to accompany your television programme, you need to make sure you have accounted for it in your main budget (not sectioned off). James Penfold agreed that channel commissioners will assume you can make your online proposition for the linear budget you are proposing.
  6. Think about how you are going to attract people to your online content: Matt Locke said that many producers talk as if they have already got 5,000 users, but never say how they are going to get those users to take notice in the first place. Think about the best platform for your content and don’t try to reinvent the wheel – go to where the audiene is already hanging out online, such as Facebook, Bebo and YouTube.
  7. Keep it simple: Matt Locke described the phenomenon of ‘Buckaroo’ pitches, where TV producers try to hang all kinds of content off their TV idea, but it usually ends up as a mess on the floor.

Get more development and pitching tips in Greenlit: Developing Factual/Reality TV Ideas From Concept to Pitch


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