22 September 2022

Nowstalgia: Classic TV Content in the Metaverse

How to revive your classic TV program for new audiences in the Metaverse

By Sandra Lehner

© M+E Connections

“The Trend is your Friend.” is a popular expression coined by Martin Zweig, a famous financial analyst and investor. While this is also true when it comes to entertainment trends, I would suggest differentiating between micro- and macro-trends, so you don’t end up chasing every passing trend.

Micro-trends refer to smaller shifts in consumer behavior that change the landscape in the short-term. These trends are interesting if you want to find ways to connect with your audience in the here and now. But macro-trends refer to major shifts in consumer behavior that have a long-term effect on your business. My goal is to present macro-trends that can help future-proof your business.

Macro-Trend Nowstalgia

One of my all-time favorite macro-trends is called “Nowstalgia”. It means combining nostalgia-evoking IP with today’s new technology, so it appeals to a wider audience range.

I already wrote about “How Nowstalgia” saved us in 2016” but since this is a macro-trend, it's as relevant today as it was six years ago. Especially during difficult times, we crave nostalgia, because as research shows remembering positive things from the past can help us feel better in the present. Nostalgia can serve a defence mechanism, protecting us from bad memories by flooding us with good ones.

Best example for “Nowstalgia” is Pokémon Go. For a large demographic, Pokémon was an integral part of their youth, so seeing it again brought back all those powerful, lasting memories and emotions. But the innovative and technologically advanced features, particularly augmented reality and geolocation revived the brand successfully 20 years after its initial brand launch.

Pokémon is also the highest-grossing media franchise ever and a little further down in the list of the 25 highest-grossing media franchises of all time, you can find another Japanese media franchise called Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball x Fortnite

Since its release in 1984, Dragon Ball has become one of the most successful manga and anime series of all time, with the manga sold in over 40 countries and the anime broadcast in more than 80 countries. 

If you haven’t heard about Fortnite yet. Fortnite is the most popular game in the world, with millions of fans playing the game daily across various platforms. It’s at heart a free-to-play battle royale game with numerous game modes for every type of game player, developed by Epic Games.

Similar to Epic’s huge Naruto event from last year, this Dragon Ball takeover is a huge celebration of an iconic anime franchise as four powerful and iconic Dragon Ball Super characters, Son Goku, Vegeta, Bulma, and Beerus, have arrived in-game.

Have a look at the Fortnite x Dragon Ball Gameplay Trailer: 

Until the end of August, players will be able to visit well-known locations from the series on a new custom-built addition to the game’s map called Adventure Island. They can also watch episodes and complete quests to earn new items for customizing their characters, including a dragon glider and dragon radar backpack.

Inspector Gadget x Gamisodes

It doesn’t have to be one of the biggest media franchises in the world, though. California-based publisher Gamisodes has announced the upcoming release of a new collection of “gamified” episodes based on the first season (65 x 22 minutes) of classic animated series Inspector Gadget (owned by WildBrain). The media franchise that began in 1983 follows the adventures of a powerful but dimwitted cyborg (part man, part machine) police inspector named Gadget.

Bridging nostalgia and interactivity, Gamisodes CEO Davis Brimer told Kidscreen that his platform, slated to launch in early 2023, aims to revitalize and repurpose classic TV content for fans. “It’s so much more than a choose-your-own-adventure style of interactivity,” he says. The upcoming Inspector Gadget gamisodes will be built on the same storylines from the series that fans are familiar with, but with new interactive moments added in. For example, scenes in which lead characters Penny and Brain help Inspector Gadget out of a conundrum will be “gamified” so that they break the fourth wall and turn to the viewer for help. “Now you are the hero of the show working side by side with your favorite characters,” Brimer says.

Gamisodes is also launching a range of collectible NFT cards to accompany the game. The cards are set to drop in August and provide VIP perks and can also be used in-game for claiming items, leveling up and more. While the Millennial parents are the target audience for the NFTs, their kids are the target audience for the interactive episodes. Co-Viewing/co-playing is important to Gamisodes CEO Davis Brimer, and another macro-trend that has increased substantially amid COVID-19 and will continue to rise.

Hey Arnold! x NFTs

Speaking of NFTs, iconic children’s television channel Nickelodeon launched a nostalgia instilled NFT collection based on two of its most iconic 90's programming, Rugrats and Hey Arnold! The collection, which is simply dubbed ‘Rugrats + Hey Arnold!, is created in partnership with RECUR, a premier platform for creating innovative, multi-chain NFT experiences.

Asked about the company’s role in Nickelodeon’s plunge into Web3 (which has even seen the launch of its own NFT-centric Twitter pageRECUR’s CEO Zach Bruch said: “We are so excited to partner with Nickelodeon. Building the Nickelodeon NFT experience transported me back to some of the best childhood memories like sitting on the couch, enjoying Nick cartoons after school with friends. The Nick Web3 experience will bring fans back to those incredible and nostalgic moments. I am thrilled that the RECUR platform will bring these iconic characters into the metaverse.”

NFT enthusiasts and fans of the shows alike can now own a piece of Nickelodeon history by collecting the most iconic moments and characters from these series as NFTs. However, it will all come down to utility. What can NFT holders do with their NFTs? Having attended many “Hollywood x Web3” events recently, I’ve learnt it’s important that the IP owner and the technology company work closely together. The original content and the new technology must go hand in hand and offer real value to the fans. Otherwise, the NFTs are perceived as “cash-grab”. 

Wild, Wild Web3

New technology, especially Web3, offers many opportunities to revive and repurpose so-called “shelf IP” that’s otherwise collecting dust, and introducing it to new audiences. And Nowstalgia is at its best when it has multi-generational appeal and joined media engagement.

Admittedly, Web3 is still the wild, wild West right now, but starting to think about how your classic TV program could show up in this new world, will give you a head start and especially the kids space is moving fast. If you are interested in finding out more about trends in kids’ content, join us at MIPJUNIOR in October, where  Inspector Gadget producer WildBrain will present a case study on “IP 360”

About the author

SANDRA LEHNER

Sandra Lehner is a Creative Strategy Director, currently based in Los Angeles. She is a frequent contributor to MIPBlog, and speaks regularly at MIPTV & MIPCOM.

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