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SMNYC 2024: Fremantle's Laura Florence Talks FAST Gamification and Beat the BUZZR

At Streaming Media NYC 2024, Tim Siglin, Founding Executive Director, Help Me Stream Research Foundation, and Contributing Editor, Streaming Media, interviews Laura Florence, SVP Global FAST Channels, Fremantle. She discusses how Fremantle seeks to engage audiences with older content by incorporating interactive elements, such as trivia and fun facts, into the viewing experience, allowing users to interact with the content through a mobile app. She also discusses the use of restorative AI to improve the quality of older content shot on tape for modern viewing platforms.

Siglin asks Florence to talk about her role at Fremantle.

“I am the SVP of Global Channels,” Florence says. “I joined them in July of last year, and I've been brought in to help run both our linear businesses, being both broadcast OTA and FAST, as well as to support the D2C movement for a lot of our catalog in this new wave of digital delivery.”

Fremantle and the gamification of FAST

Siglin mentions a keynote panel that Florence participated in earlier that day with Andy Beach, CTO, Media & Entertainment, Worldwide, Microsoft (“Beat The BUZZR! How Microsoft & Fremantle Are Gamifying FAST & Capitalizing Interactive TV”), where the discussion was the gamification of FAST. He asks her to describe what “gamifying” FAST means for Fremantle.

“We were looking at additional ways we could engage old content and make it new,” Florence says. “And one of the inherent easiest extensions of that is by taking games which have a very strong play along rate from our core audience, of about 96%. And then how do you enhance that experience for something fresh and new? But in addition, how can we reward our biggest fans for continuing to participate in the content?”

The second screen concept

Florence discusses how the “second screen concept” helped Fremantle’s audience to best engage directly with their content.

“Because we're not a tech platform,” she says, “what was achievable was doing the second screen engagement that helped to enhance what was on screen, not to take it away. So we built everything into a mobile app.”

Siglin asks, “And is part of the idea to sort of use machine learning to find places that might be slow in a typical game show and add trivia in there? Or do you add it to the more exciting moments?”

“I think a lot of it has been to explore the type of games because each game has a pretty specific format and they're different and how do they play along, how can they be engaged?” Florence says. “But it's a mixture of more than just the game itself. It could be trivia and fun facts. It could be a sponsorable moment and element. There's a lot of different tactics we could actually take that really are trying to optimize the content you're watching or playing along with.”

How restorative AI makes vintage content look fresh

Siglin notes that much of this vintage content was shot in 4:3 TV aspect ratio on video, and that for those who are watching it now on large high definition TVs, the picture quality would be noticeably degraded with some kind of improvement. He asks how Fremantle handles upgrading the content for modern screens and viewer expectations.

“Restorative AI is ready now to help take our SD content and move into HD in 4K,” Florence says. “But it's not just restoring it, it's cleaning it, it's providing that additional experience where it still keeps the integrity of the show, but really makes it look good on a 4K TV.”

What Fremantle viewers can look forward to next

Siglin asks, “What are some of the things that your hardcore fans will have to look forward to with game shows in the next year or so?”

“For us, it's been how can we reward and engage and provide this extension for customers that really want to play along and participate or even just provide feedback or just engage on social,” Florence says. “I think all of these things are just touch points to how we can help [our] power base engage. But we do hope to reward with additional giveaways, e-commerce, and exclusive items.”

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