What is Transmedia Broadcasting?

in Australian Media/Australian Television/General/International Media/International Television/Media Technology

Many people within the media field may have heard of the term transmedia storytelling, but what is transmedia broadcasting?
To define transmedia broadcasting we must first explain the fundamentals of transmedia storytelling. Henry Jenkins, a key media theorist in the area of convergence, was the first to discuss this new method of storytelling. Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as;

“a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story”.

Jenkins’ uses “The Matrix” as an example of transmedia storytelling. Using various media platforms including film, games, comics, animations, websites etc, to convey the story to the audience. Although each of these elements stands alone as a single narrative, each adds greater depth to the overall narrative.

Transmedia broadcasting is when an identical narrative is broadcast across multiple media platforms. For example the ABC (Australia) may broadcast a program on television, then allow the audience to view the program on iView, watch or download the program on ABC.net.au and on their portable media devices (iPhone). Although their are four different platforms for the audience to view the content, none of the platforms give further depth to the overall narrative of the program. Below I have drawn two illustration to further explain the difference between the two terms transmedia storytelling and transmedia broadcasting.

Transmedia Storytelling 101

[nggallery id=4]
Illustrations above are copyright to Marc C-Scott.
If using them please cite Marc C-Scott as the source and link to this site.


  1. With due respect, I might urge you to reconsider the term “transmedia broadcasting” as you have defined it. As you note, Henry Jenkins took pains to distinguish the term “transmedia” by indicating that each iteration of the narrative is unique and serves a contributory purpose. Multiple platforms serve to weave a narrative tapestry, so that the more you involve yourself in the pursuit of the narrative across platforms, the deeper your appreciation for the greater story world. What you are describing indicates repurposed or what I call “layered media” where the same content is distributed through multiple channels. Terms such as cross-platform or multi-platform rollout apply to this type of implementation. When using the term “transmedia” I sometimes get sneers from academics and entertainment industry execs alike, because they feel I’m simply proliferating a “buzz” word to use in place of cross-media or some other term. I promise I’m not! Transmedia is the art and science of communicating messages, themes and storylines using multiple media platforms in concert. It’s a new and fascinating form of expression and we’ve only scratched the surface of its vast potential. Thanks for thinking about this!

    Jeff Gomez
    Starlight Runner Entertainment

  2. As one of a handful of students who worked with Henry at MIT as he was formulating his ideas around transmedia storytelling, I wanted to weigh in to say that I’d agree with Jeff on this.

    While what you’re describing is an important phenomenon, no doubt, it’s definitely somewhat distinct from the way “transmedia” was used in Convergence Culture. Even if we’re not talking about transmedia *storytelling*, since the concept has since been translated and applied to marketing, branding, planning and several other fields, the foundational concept is that each medium is used for what it can do uniquely, or best, and not just as an additional distribution mechanism for content that was developed primarily for another medium.

    While I’m not sure there’s any one single term for what you’re describing — Jeff’s “layered media” is one possible approach, and “transmedia broadcasting”, while a little problematic, could be another — the ones I’ve seen most often are “repurposed content” and “multiplatform content distribution.” The key here, again, is that using multiple platforms isn’t the same as having components work hand-in-hand *across* platforms.

    But I’m curious to hear more about your concept of this, and to follow your work!

  3. Hello Marc,

    I actually came across your site last week I think it was and did consider writing a comment, but got lay-weighed with time.

    It is true, ‘transmedia broadcasting’ does corrupt the meaning behind ‘transmedia storytelling’. Indeed, Jenkins selected ‘transmedia’ to differentiate the practice from adaptations and repurposing. So, to use transmedia + broadcast in the same term changes the meaning of ‘transmedia storytelling’.

    But, since you’re studying a PhD, I’ll also add that ‘transmedia storytelling’ as it exists in media studies now, has a different meaning to ‘transmedial narrative’ in narratology. So, it really is up to you as to where your research is situated.

    I’ll note too that other terms like ‘multi-platform’, ‘cross-platform’, ‘cross-media’ and so on are also employed quite readily to denote (at times in a contradictory way) a range of practices: repurposing, adaptations and continuations of content across media. Indeed, ‘cross-platform’ has been the popular I’ve seen of late. While ‘multi-platform’ has a problem when applied in gaming and IT environments as they have completely different meanings there.

    To be honest, Jeff and Ivan, these mixes of usages are part of the natural semantic evolution. As people enter the area they adopt the term to represent whatever way they are using media. There really isn’t anything you can do about it. That is one reason why I change my terms according to what industry audiences I’m speaking to…and another reason why I use a completely different term in academia. hehe

    And I’ll back you up Jeff too — you’ve been using ‘transmedia’ for a long time, before you knew Henry was using it! 🙂

    Thanks for provoking the discussion Marc! All the best with your studies and business!

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