Press Release

Chat Plays GBH Brings Popular Public Media Programs To New Social Media Audiences with Multiplatform Interactive Live Streaming Event

By SpaceRef Editor
October 6, 2020
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GBH will bring the experience of some of its iconic public media programs to new audiences during Chat Plays GBH, a five-hour interactive live streaming variety show produced across Twitch, YouTube and Facebook. Produced in collaboration with Hovercast, Chat Plays GBH is an innovative digital event to showcase the different forms of interactive live streaming, an emerging genre of media that melds television, social media and gaming into an engaging experience allowing audiences to participate in their entertainment.
Throughout the live stream, GBH will bring together content from a series of nationally-recognized GBH productions, including NOVA, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, Arthur and Joyce Chen Cooks. Chat Plays GBH streams on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 from 2-7 pm on GBH Twitch, and 3-7PM on YouTube and Facebook.
“Not only will Chat Plays GBH allow new audiences to experience some of our best-loved programs in new ways, it will also allow us to better understand emerging opportunities in social TV and interactive streaming,” said Bob Kempf, Vice President of Digital Services at GBH.“ This project is an innovative way that GBH is leading public media’s transformation from a traditional broadcast environment to a digital-first future.”
The title Chat Plays GBH references the explosion of interest in interactive live streaming following the 2014 phenomenon “Twitch Plays Pokémon,” during which 1.6 million gamers played the Nintendo game Pokémon as a single player by using the chat function on Twitch.
“Audience participation is a storytelling superpower for creatives that’s currently hiding in plain sight. With new technology, viewers can now ‘play TV’ and broadcasters can listen to that audience feedback in real time,” said Eli Stonberg, CEO of Hovercast, a company that creates interactive live streams on any platform with real time chat curation and audience engagement features. “We’re collaborating with GBH to showcase some exciting forms of interactive live streaming that haven’t been explored before—such as the first-ever example of cross-platform crowdplay in a cooking competition that pits Twitch against YouTube to see which platform is the better chef.”
The interactive live stream kicks off with a Twitch-exclusive segment, AMAzing Space with NOVA, inspired by GBH’s popular science documentary series NOVA and an homage to Reddit’s popular “Ask Me Anything” format. Audience members will have the opportunity to pose questions to two scientists about the intersection of exotic biosignatures and world-building: Clara Sousa-Silva, an MIT astrochemist who co-authored the recent study finding phosphine, a possible signature of life, on Venus, and Moiya McTier an astrophysicist, folklorist, and science communicator currently pursuing a PhD at Columbia University.
The segment ANTIQUES ROADSHOWdown transforms the long-running GBH program ANTIQUES ROADSHOW into a cross-platform online game show. Hosted by the show’s executive producer, Marsha Bemko, audience members will guess the price of items and receive points for playing along.
In Choose Your Own Arthventure, the audience will assemble a new episode of Arthur, the longest-running children’s animated series in the U.S., produced by GBH. Hosted by Deborah Frank, associate producer of Arthur, the audience will build the story by voting to select popular clips of the animated aardvark’s adventures.
The first known example of cross platform crowdplay between YouTube and Twitch is on display in Stream Cuisine with Joyce Chen, a segment inspired by the classic GBH culinary education show Joyce Chen Cooks. Viewers on each platform control their own chef, providing instructions in chat as chefs create Joyce Chen’s iconic sweet and sour pork recipe. Stephen Chen, Joyce’s son, will determine the winner based on taste, presentation and accuracy.
Chat Plays GBH culminates with Chatsterpiece, in which the live audience has its greatest role yet: co-authoring a generic British drama acted out by Boston-based improv artists GC Entertainment. The segment celebrates the popular modern adaptations of classic literature found on public television.
“Productions like Chat Plays engage audiences in a new way, allowing them a voice in developing the experience they are a part of,” said Tory Starr, GBH’s Director of Digital & Social Content Innovation. “With Chat Plays GBH, we are inviting audience members to take a seat next to the producers and create an entertaining and educational experience together, as part of one community.”
Chat Plays GBH will be hosted by NOVA Senior Digital Editor Sukee Bennett and GBH Digital Marketing Manager Jackie Bruleigh.
About GBH
GBH is the leading multi-platform creator for public media in America. As the largest producer of content for PBS and partner to NPR and PRX, GBH delivers compelling experiences, stories and information to audiences wherever they are. GBH produces digital and broadcast programming that engages, illuminates and inspires, through drama and science, history, arts, culture and journalism. It is the creator of such signature programs as MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Arthur and Molly of Denali, as well as WORLD Channel and a catalog of streaming series, podcasts and on-demand video. With studios and a newsroom headquartered in Boston, GBH reaches across New England with GBH 89.7, Boston’s Local NPR®; CRB Classical 99.5; and CAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® station. Dedicated to making media accessible to and inclusive of our diverse culture, GBH is a pioneer in delivering media to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired. GBH creates curriculum-based digital content for educators nationwide with PBS LearningMedia and has been recognized with hundreds of the nation’s premier broadcast, digital and journalism awards. Find more information at
About Hovercast
Hovercast helps brands, broadcasters and public figures create next level virtual events and interactive live streams. Past clients include Donald Glover, Audi, Old Spice, PC Gamer and national politicians and campaigns. Hovercast’s interactive graphics empower viewers to participate, play, donate, compete, or even co-create the show. Connect with the community and boost engagement using brand-safe, lightning fast solutions for moderating, curating, and displaying live chat. Design and control great looking graphics with ease and output to any live streaming platform. Hovercast’s live tools give viewers agency and make them a meaningful part of the broadcast, not just spectators on the sidelines.

SpaceRef staff editor.