Thursday, 6 January 2011

Interactive Bingo!

Created and produced by Oliver Ashton


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TV Bingo was the first continuous 6 ball lottery show on daytime TV. Bingo was still an illegal TV format and Live Roulette had slipped through the net by way of a local licensing law. The show was a lot of fun and offered the chance to win £100,000 every 3 minutes and could be watched and played on Sky TV or in a Flash interface. My role had been to take the concept and create a 4 hour a day Live TV show across all branding, technical aspects and production.  Having designed the brand element and written the brief I set about creating the game format with my team of IT and Brainstorm designers. I then created the architecture for the IVR which I'd learnt by designing a far more complex solution for Live Roulette. Then the banking integration, pay out solutions, database architecture and finally the call centre logic and scripts.

My job as a participation TV producer was to create a successful business, a successful TV show and a successful brand. Looking back I would have done things differently because there were floors in the brand and the marketing from concept. Fore instance, calling the show TV Bingo when it was a Lottery was misleading and the first law of participation is transparency. We also marketed the product  from a mobile phone database via SMS established from a Call TV customer data base. This kind of customer enjoyed competitions and a small percentage might have enjoyed Bingo but not necessarily a day of repetitive gambling.

How ever, this was my first opportunity to create a product from concept across all IT using my Live Roulette experience and whilst the brand was askew it was a brilliant product and encapsulated the entrepreneurial spirit of the mid naughties. TV Bingo was cheap to create and broadcast, and proved that lottery and more importantly Live Bingo was possible in a TV format, if the right call to actions were put in place with access to the games across multiple touch points. It was also an interesting exploration into the possibilities of TV WEB MOB gaming innovation and a step forward for more complex interactive IT projects in the future. The front end of the show was on blue screen and did a great job. 5 years on it still holds up and could easily be translated into a live online Bingo format for 24hr broadcast with far more social and interactive aspects designed into the production process. 

Many of the late night revenue games such as Call TV and Live Roulette started in cupboards just like TV Bingo, with just one producer and two presenters on alternate 30 minute shifts. I now see the key to a successful participation game production as keeping your costs low until you know the customer life time value. I now always suggest that new formats start bottom up rather than top down. Create a cheap platform from where you can build visibility and a show that does what it says on the tin, which is quirky and has regular mass participation pay outs. If you can fill a data base with players who want to keep playing and depositing then the show can be scaled upwards. In this way new formats can be tested to measure and if the mud falls off the wall then its far less painful. 

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