Derivative New Media
Did you know that apps, social media games, vlogs and branded content are covered by the WGA? Our primer will help guide you through Derivative formats that fall under the MBA.   

By Tamara Krinsky, New Media Program Manager

(June 6, 2013) 

What do iPhone apps, social media games, TV character vlogs and branded content have in common? These formats all feature video content that falls under the WGA’s New Media agreement.

Many people don’t realize that these new formats are WGA-covered. In 2007, when the Writers Guild went out on strike for 100 days, one of the goals was to gain jurisdiction over New Media productions. The strike was successful and resulted in coverage of three areas of New Media content: Original New Media, such as the web series Burning Love and Aim High; Traditional Reuse, which applies to shows that are originally broadcast on television and then air in their entirety on a digital platform like Hulu; and Derivative New Media, which encompasses new material based on a pre-existing TV program of a type traditionally covered by the MBA, such as Kenneth the Web Page, which is derived from the TV series 30 Rock.

Over the last several years, Derivative programming has evolved beyond the initial “spin off” web series most in evidence after the strike. Derivative content now exists in hybrid formats that live on a variety of platforms and connect to their audiences in new ways.

Here’s a closer look at some of the Derivative formats that fall under the jurisdiction of the Guild’s New Media agreement:

Social Media Game: Hashtag Killer
This social media game, written by WGAW members Daniel Carter & Brittany Hilgers & Tory Walker, kicked off in late September 2011 as a lead up to Psych’s Season 6 premiere. Fans could access the game through USA’s website or through Gameplay features included original videos with the series stars James Roday and Dulé Hill, interactive crime scene photos, sending and receiving messages with show characters, phone calls and weekly puzzles and challenges. The video components of the game were covered under the WGA’s New Media agreement.

Branded entertainment: Another Desperate Housewife
Desperate Housewives partnered with Sprint in 2009 for this series of interstitials featuring a married couple dealing with their own moments of intrigue. The spots reference characters from the television series and incorporate product placement from Sprint in the storylines, such as text messages on Sprint phones. Writers working on the interstitials were Jason Ganzel, Jamie Gorenberg, Marc Cherry, Matt Berry and Bob Daily. In a 2009 Ad Age article, Denise Ocasio, a managing director at WPP Group's MindShare who helped craft the Housewives deal and oversaw the agency's Sprint business at the time said, "This is something [ABC executives] have not done before, in terms of getting an actual writer and creator of one of their hit shows to be intimately involved in the product of these shorts."

iPhone App: House Appisodes
This 13-part series was available for exclusive viewing on Fox’s House-related app called INHouse for iPhone, iPodTouch and iPad devices. The three-minute “appisodes,” written by Lawrence Kaplow, were released in May 2010 following the series finale, and featured show character Nurse Jeffrey played by Patrick Price.

If you’re creating Derivative content of any kind please contact the Guild to make sure it is WGA-covered.

Learn more about the Guild’s coverage of Derivative New Media