This Tuesday could be an average Tuesday for most. But for the world of TV, it's a biggie. Because on Tuesday 12 March at 7.30pm, a completely new type of television programme begins. So new, that it's not even on TV.
Tonight sees the launch of The Fox Problem, a live entertainment chat show delivered through a Google+ Hangout, streamed live on YouTube, and embedded across Google+, Facebook, Twitter and websites like Heatworld.
Why is this so important? Because it's bypassed all traditional routes of commissioning and production, and gone straight to the Internet to create it's own home. From its inception The Fox Problem, which is produced by Social TV company Telegraph Hill, has been an online proposition. Presented and co-Produced by three young female presenters Gemma Cairney (Radio 1), Georgie Okell (T4) and Georgia L-A (SB.TV), The Fox Problem is the first entertainment production to be optimizing the advanced technology of a Google+ Hangout.
A Hangout is incredibly simple in operation, but delivers a far more exciting viewer experience. It can display multiple video feeds simultaneously, from anywhere in the world, which can be delivered live to YouTube, in real time. Imagine Skype on speed and you're almost there. All it needs is a broadband connection to broadcast, meaning that live, global Outside Broadcasts just got a hell of a lot cheaper.
And here begins the game changing elements which the TV industry are taking note of. Doing an online show is nothing new, but delivering a live online show, with live feeds coming in from all over the world, to one YouTube window, at minimal costs, is new.
If you look closely on some news channels, like Sky News and Channel 4 News, you'll see the public are starting to contribute using their G+ profiles to join the news team's Hangout. They film themselves on their webcams and talk into the microphones on their laptops, whilst being streamed into a live TV programme.
Channel 4's One Born Every Minute were one of the first show's to try this kind of thing on a prime time broadcast, but their choice of Skype meant the end result looked a little ropey.
Hangouts are by no means at their visual peak just yet, but they are using technology in a way that could open up an extremely exciting opportunity for global, cheap broadcasting, by both being fed into a live TV programme, like the news, or by broadcasting their very own TV programme, like The Fox Problem.
For the latter, this again adds to the game changing element for TV, as Producers will be able to able to create their own content and, provided they can fund it, deliver it themselves without having to get things signed off by the commissioners. For some this could be the ultimate in creative freedom, but for others the removal of the commissioning safety net might prove disastrous.
As for funding, the Hangout provides an opportunity to work with brands on a platform where data capturing is key to the production process, and where 16-24's can find content tailored direct to their needs. So broadcasting on a Hangout could create a very valuable space for advertisers.
I don't think Hangouts will be replacing traditional TV just yet, but incorporated into production in the right way means that Hangouts could provide a really exciting opportunity for live programmes to reach global production levels on a small amount of money. And when a show like The Fox Problem doesn't quite fit any one channel, it's now a possibility to create it's own instead.
Watch the experiment live on www.thefoxproblem.com, Tuesday 12th March at 7.30pm.
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