June 21, 2006

Idea: A new TV show gimmick

The TV industry is worried about people swapping their TV shows on-line. So they’re trying to preempt the pirates by making several popular TV shows legitimately available, either for pay or ad-supported. Meanwhile, programs like LOST are experimenting with on-line puzzles which take people deeper into the world of the show by making you visit different websites, etc.

What if a TV show embraced both concepts, and did something like this:

A TV show where the East Coast and West Coast see slightly different versions of the same episodes. Just a few key scenes would be different. Some clues would appear on the East Coast version, and different clues would appear on the West Coast version. You could watch just the version for your part of the country and follow the program just fine, but in order to get the complete picture, you’d have to go on-line and swap files (or watch legitimately) to see what the other coast saw.

Or at TV show where the East Coast and West Coast see entirely different versions. Maybe a show like 24 could have an integrated spin-off. Imagine if CTU Los Angeles had to stop a terrorist attack, but they can’t do it all themselves, so they work in conjunction with CTU New York. First, the East Coast would watch CTU New York, and then in real-time the West Coast would see the next hour at CTU Los Angeles. They would each have their own stand-alone storyline, but also have a crossover story. If written correctly, the programs could then swap at the end of the season — the East Coast could air CTU Los Angeles, and the West Coast could air CTU New York.

I’m sure there are a dozen reasons why this isn’t real practical. But I like the idea.

Related: Idea: A new movie gimmick


They tried this trick with video games. The result was Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue.

What about other countries…