Part of Broader Effort to Bring Original Content to New Platforms for Younger Audiences
BOSTON (September 6, 2019) –WGBH, the largest producer of content for PBS on television and the web, has launched the Emerging Platforms Initiative, a commitment to experimenting with new forms of storytelling on new platforms to reach the next generation of public media audiences.
Focused on engaging with audiences from ages 13-35, the Emerging Platforms Initiative will create original content for emerging video platforms, such as Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, TikTok and Twitch, among others. Topics will focus on subjects that align with WGBH’s core content and mission including History, Arts & Culture, Journalism, Science and Education.
The first major offering will leverage the interactivity of the social video network Twitch to present WGBH’s Escape Lab, a one-night, interactive escape room competition aimed at generating enthusiasm around space, science and public media among Twitch’s 55 million monthly active users.
“As a leader in public media, WGBH is always looking to advance creativity, innovation, and ways to make learning fun,” said WGBH President and CEO Jon Abbott. “Technology has made media available when, where and how audiences want it. With our Emerging Platforms Initiative, WGBH is engaging young people where they are and creating community in new ways.”
In a traditional escape room experience, participants must collaborate to solve puzzles in order to escape a thematic environment. Escape Lab will be set in a futuristic space station orbiting Mars. Audience members will help two teams in their race to conduct important research experiments before starting their journey home.
Playing a starring role in the competition are four siblings, hosts of the popular YouTube channel The Skorys. The show will be hosted by STEM educator Justin Shaifer, also known as Mr. Fascinate. Shaifer, located at mission control, will act as a liaison between the player “astronauts" and the live Twitch audience that will interact with the teams by voting in polls, solving puzzles and helping the “astronauts” throughout the mission with the goal of escaping the space station.
To create Escape Lab, WGBH turned to a group of experts. Representatives from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory consulted with WGBH about the scientific basis for the show’s content. Trapology, a leading Boston-based escape room design team, worked with WGBH to develop the game story and build the physical manifestation of Escape Lab at the WGBH studio. The team also turned to their colleagues at WGBH Education to weave core high school science curriculum into the Escape Lab’s space station theme.
Fans can participate in the live Escape Lab experience on Twitch by following the show’s channel at www.twitch.tv/escapelab. The escape room experience will take place at 7 pm on Monday, September 9, with pre-game content beginning at 5 pm.
The Emerging Platforms initiative is funded through the Catalyst Fund, part of the Campaign for WGBH: Leadership in the Digital Century.
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater Boston, Basic Black and High School Quiz Show. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB Classical Radio Boston; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of digital content and programs for public radio through PRI/PRX, including The World and Innovation Hub, a leader in educational multimedia with PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content, and a pioneer in services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.