The Age of Social TV

Elon Evora | @lonievora

In today’s modern, technology-driven and social media-obsessed world, you cannot log in to your favorite social networking site without possibly seeing TV spoilers. People are engaging in a growing phenomenon called social TV. Millions are viewing their favorite programs, sporting events or award shows while sharing their reactions and comments and discussing with other viewers in real time across social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Watching television has become fresh and fun all over again, and it is no longer a passive but an interactive activity.

The new wave of reality competition shows began the social TV trend and are still leading the pack. In 2012, the Tween Thriller on ABC Family Pretty Little Liars (#PLL) had more than 10 million social media posts between January and November 2012. According to Mashable, the 2012 airings of Fox' The X Factor and NBC's The Voice received more than 28 million combined posts from sites such as Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Viggle.

Television networks have caught on fast with social media strategies that actively engage audiences both on the network social platforms as well as on the individual program's social media. There are special hashtags for shows and frequent interactions to maintain viewer loyalty, feedback and ratings. Networks have definitely seen the benefits of being active on social media, and audiences benefit too by being able to discuss the episodes in detail on social media with close friends or total strangers. Whether it be AMC’s #BreakingBad, Showtime’s #Homeland, MTV’s  #Catfish, #TheVoice or #PLL a viewer can compare notes with another viewer anywhere in the world about a show they are watching simultaneously.

ScandalABC’s Scandal, created by Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy), insists that the entire cast and crew participate in the social media experience. The actors, writing staff, show stylists and hair and makeup crews all join in on the weekly discussion of each episode. Cast, crew and viewers generate a combined average of 350,000 tweets on Thursday nights during the broadcast. In its May 2013 season finale, 9.1 million viewers contributed to its highest ratings. It also broke its own twitter record with approximately 572,000 tweets!

What do you think about the social TV phenomenon? Do you engage on social networks like Twitter while watching your favorite show, or are you ‘old school’ when it comes to watching TV?

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