By David M. Green
Entries close today at 5pm for the ELEVEN out of Ten development initiative, the Ten Network’s latest short-cut method to find the next hit TV show.
Channel Ten is launching a new digital TV channel in 2011, appropriately called ELEVEN. It’ll be the new home of Ten’s long-running Neighbours and The Simpsons and will target the 13-29 year-old “youth” demographic. Naturally, with more air time available, they’re looking for some new original programming.
So what do they do? Screw coming up with their own ideas! It’s expensive, time-consuming and risky. Instead, Channel Ten is doing what so many other media organisations are doing: get the audience to do the work for you.
ELEVEN out of Ten is a call for amateur television makers to submit their own show proposals. Five finalists will be flown to Sydney next month to attend the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) 2010 Conference, where they will pitch their show in person to network executives. The grand prize is $20,000 and access to Ten’s equipment and facilities to make your own TV series. Awesome! It’s every YouTuber’s dream.
Channel Ten are not the first ones to do this. In 2008, Foxtel’s Comedy Channel ran Comedy Gold, essentially the same competition, but limited to comedy. Radio stations do call-outs for user-generated content too. In 2009 the Triple M Network ran Semi-Pro Radio, which was open to people who worked in the “advertising or creative industries” and let 13 finalists make a once-off radio show that broadcast around the country.
Incidentally, one of the Semi-Pro Radio finalists was me… Check out THE Big Show.
But it’s not just TV and radio stations who run these user-perpetuated promotional campaigns. Popular corn chip proprietor Doritos has been calling for the public to make their own ad for years.
So why the recent trend? Well, it’s not really new. Australia’s Funniest Home Videos have been asking for the public’s content since 1989. But it’s technology that has made user-generated content much more common. Now everyone can shoot video.
Also, it’s cheap, easy and much less risky. Why spend $100,000 on building a set for a TV pilot that’s completely unproven, when you can run a contest and just take someone else’s developed ideas that have already been tested on YouTube and gained a following?
We see this in journalism too. Citizen journalism is user-generated content. And as budgets tighten in the media sector, I believe user-generated content will play an increasingly bigger role in what we watch on TV, hear on radio and read online, for better or worse.