Are television networks missing the boat when it comes to Social Media? If the cancellation of Last Resort is any indication, I have to answer with a big yes! One of the reason behind the cancellation was the network, ABC, didn’t feel the show gelled with women. Yet if you look at Twitter during the show a majority of the tweets on the hashtag are from women. Personally I believe that the show was scheduled incorrectly, based on content it’s definitely not an 8PM show, they should have given Last Resort a chance in the old Private Practice time slot.
Social Media is having a growing effect on how the public watches TV, one study found that more than 40 percent of the respondents reported using social media on various devices such as smart phones and tablets while watching TV. The majority of families combined TV viewing with the use of Twitter, Facebook, and forum discussions about what they watched. The added dimension of social interaction can actually improve the experience of an otherwise mediocre show. Participants reported they find annoying reality shows funnier or more engaging when they were able to comment on social media about “terrible” singers, or “ugly” clothing. Take Big Brother as an example, many people tuned out early this past summer because it was boring, the live feed watchers kept the show interesting because of their “behind the scenes” tweets. Another show, ABC’s The Glasshouse tried to add social media interaction, but didn’t quite succeed in attracting the numbers.
“I think social interaction is HUGE! There’s nothing worse than celebrities, blog owners etc that won’t acknowledge or interact with fans. TURN OFF. Like the Simmons. I became enraptured with their show on A&E, loved it!!!!! I’m talking die-hard fan.
When I realized they didn’t wouldn’t interact with viewers on Twitter, not only didn’t I watch anymore, I had negative feelings! I thought you’re not THAT special that you can tweet about yourself. Ask for fans to come out and see appearances etc but never acknowledge your viewers?!? Oh hell no,” said one Tweeter.
In today’s social media age content providers need to find a way to keep the audience interested, one writer that’s doing that the best is Shondra Rhimes, creator of ABC’s Scandal. Shondra made sure that all the actors joined Twitter and engaged with the fans. The cast regularly live tweets with the viewers, alternating between the East Coast and West Coast fans each week. Shondra just gets it! One cast that didn’t get it was TLC’s Sin City Rules, other than low ratings, I believe one of the reasons behind the shows cancellation was the way the cast interacted negatively with one another and viewers on Twitter.
The Hollywood Reporter published an exclusive poll about social media led by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland. As the report opens, THR notes, “There’s a sea change afoot in how Americans discover and consume entertainment.”
The report found that 79% of connected television viewers visit Facebook while watching TV. Jon Penn notes, “Social media is the connective tissue that enables consumers to multitask during their entertainment experiences by connecting with others and sharing their opinions.” Eighty-three percent surf the web while viewing TV and 41% tweet about the show they’re watching (41% seems awfully low to me). Of those who post about TV shows, 76% do so live and 51% do so to feel connected to others who might also be watching.
Types of shows people are most likely to post about while watching TV:
- 56%: Comedy
- 46%: Reality TV
- 38%: Sports
- 26%: Cable News
I know that I’ve tuned into a show simply because I’ve seen an interesting tweet whiz by on my Twitter timeline, in fact it’s estimated that three out of 10 people tuned into a TV show because of something they read or saw on a social network. The future of Social Media and TV has not yet been written nor has it been successfully broadcast. It takes vision, creativity, and imagination like that of Shondra Rhimes.
For the most part viewers are interacting among themselves without any cues or direction from the networks. The networks don’t know what they want viewers to do or say. When CBS stepped into our Twitter streams to try to change the Big Brother hashtag, you should have seen the profanity flying. But, when Shondra Rhimes and her cast created the #AskScandal hashtag Twitter ate it up, Why? Because she did it right, the cast and crew actually interact with the viewers, they answer viewers questions and speak directly to us.
The ground work by the viewing public and creators like Shondra Rhimes has started to meld TV and Social Media together, but I believe it will take collaborative strategies between the Networks, Social Media professionals and the viewing public to make it payoff, otherwise the networks just may see their ship sail, or sink in the boat of yesterday.
Follow @tvfishbowl for your Television, Movie, Celebrity, Pop Culture, and Gossip scoop— TVFishBowl (@TVFishBowl) April 9, 2013