November 15, 2007
A Precursor to FoE2: NBC's Heroes: Jesse Alexander and Mark Warshaw Speak to MIT Community (1 of 2)

First, here is the official information on the event:

The fragmenting audiences and proliferating channels of contemporary television are changing how programs are made and how they appeal to viewers and advertisers. Some media and advertising spokesmen are arguing that smaller, more engaged audiences are more valuable than the passive viewers of the Broadcast Era. They focus on the number of viewers who engage with the program and its extensions -- web sites, podcasts, digital comics, games, and so forth. What steps are networks taking to prolong and enlarge the viewer's experience of a weekly series? How are networks and production companies adapting to and deploying digital technologies and the Internet? And what challenges are involved in creating a series in which individual episodes are only part of an imagined world that can be accessed on a range of devices and that appeals to gamers, fans of comics, lovers of message boards or threaded discussions, digital surfers of all sorts? In this forum, producers from the NBC series Heroes discussed their hit show as well as the nature of network programming, the ways in which audiences are measured, the extension of television content across multiple media channels, and the value that producers place on the most active segments of their audiences.


Jesse Alexander is a co-executive producer and writer on Heroes. Previously, Alexander was an executive producer on ABC's Alias, and a co-executive producer on ABC's Lost.

Mark Warshaw is a writer/ producer/ director who joined the Heroes team in 2006 to help launch their transmedia department. Prior to joining Heroes, Warshaw spent six years on the TV show Smallville, overseeing all of their digital, DVD and integrated advertiser marketing initiatives.


Henry Jenkins is co-director of Comparative Media Studies and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities at MIT. He is the author of several books on various aspects of media and popular culture, including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide.

During the introductions, Mark told the audience that he helps to run the ancillary market of NBC's Heroes. Because NBC didn't have a name for the content around a show of the type Mark was creating, it was useful to have read Henry's book that discusses transmedia properties. Now the department is called the transmedia department. We later learned that the idea of transmedia later turned into the NBC 360 initiative. Mark oversees the everyday 360 initiative and the evolution products.

Jesse explained his job as someone who shapes where the story is going to go, running the writer's room and thinking about where the show will go in terms of transmedia properties. While he doesn't control the money from advertising, he has to keep that in his thought process as he writes.

Mark and Jesse introduced three crucial points:

1. Transmedia from Day One: From the start Heroes has thought about how transmedia properties will effect the production of Heroes. The properties are aimed to enhance Tim Kring's original brand.

2. Organic: They believe a key to the success of the show is that the properties were thought out organically-from the start.

3. Facilitation: The extensions Heroes has created works so well because the website they have created easily facilitates all of their new properties.