Online Program

Creating entertainment serial dramas for improving reproductive health and behavior change

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

William Ryerson, President, Population Media Center, Population Media Center, South Burlington, VT

The presenter will show material from the Hulu program East Los High, owned and created by Population Media Center to address adolescent pregnancy, obesity, abortion, and other social and health issues among American Hispanics. Filmed in East Los Angeles, the program is entering season 3 in 2015. Season 1 was among the top five programs on Hulu, and season 2 became the number 1 program on Hulu, as it was released in 2014. The presentation will show clips from the 48 produced episodes illustrating how the program addressed such issues as pregnancy testing, HIV testing, emergency contraception, healthful diets, and other issues. A member of the research team will present the finding of the research among viewers and the evidence of behavioral impact determined through use of Google Analytics to measure numbers of viewers who linked from one of the show’s sites to such service providers as Planned Parenthood and Latina Reproductive Health Association. In its first month alone, 24,000 people linked from one of the show's sites to Planned Parenthood's website.

In 2015, the show has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, and it has generated significant interest from national media. The use of Transmedia Storytelling has been a major factor in its success. Transmedia storytelling expands the narrative across various media platforms and locations to allow audience members further interaction with the characters and storylines, thereby learning in different ways and becoming more deeply involved. This ultimately results in greater loyalty and retention of information, and it often results in a ‘viral’ experience where the media content and other resources become highly disseminated by audience members themselves – in effect turning the audience into messengers. To accomplish this, PMC partners with leading transmedia experts to assist with the design of entertainment- and education-based extensions that help to deliver the greatest impact and extend the information and resources of the program. The narrative can be spread across a wide variety of applications including both traditional and new media, such as comic books, newspaper columns by characters, electronic games, internet video serials, character blogs, websites, social media campaigns, messages from characters or about the program delivered via mobile phones and SMS technology, and an array of other platforms tailored to the media consumption habits of each target audience.

Independent research was carried out by a team from the University of Texas El Paso to measure the impact of the program. The data on impact will be presented during the session.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate a U.S. television series to measure its behavioral impact on seeking information or services to improve reproductive health. Describe how the entertainment-education methodology involved in the design of the program has been used to bring about measurable changes in behavior.

Keyword(s): Communication and informatics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am founder and president of Population Media Center, which creates long-running serialized dramas, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience resulting in positive behavior change on health issues, including use of family planning methods and avoidance of HIV infection. I have a 44-year history of working in the field of reproductive health, including 29 years of health communications using a specific methodology of entertainment-education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.