Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Social media shows its power

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast August 01, 2013

All3Media is taking the lead in testing new formats, says Kate Bulkley

Maybe it was the birth of the royal baby. Perhaps the sunshine. Or could it just be that TV’s relationship with social media has matured naturally?

Broadcasters and TV producers are starting to understand that Facebook and Twitter are more than just bolt-ons for shows’ marketing plans. Speak to the right people and they’ll tell you social media is a beast that can beat down PVRs and the likes of Netflix, while also creating more moments that can capture viewers’ attention before, during and after a show airs.

All3Media is one such company, and NBC’s The Million Second Quiz, the new 24/7 gameshow created by Studio Lambert, is a good example.

From the outset, a 12-day live quiz broadcast from an hourglass-shaped box in New York City is a good idea, but not a great one. But when you realise that viewers could be playing the game at home one evening via social media and be in NYC playing live on TV the next, it starts to get more interesting.

NBC has signed the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest to front The Million Second Quiz, and other programmes on the network will ‘check in’ to the show all day as contestants play 24/7 for 12 days straight – including during the ads – to win up to $10m. It is not a given that social media will help make the show a winner, but the network is pulling out all the stops.

And it is not just gameshows that are getting the social media makeover. Another All3Media show, Midsomer Murders, is in its 15th season and might not appear to be a prime candidate for social media change. Yet its Facebook community is now contributing questions for on-set interviews with the characters that are posted on the social network.

Midsomer Murders also has a Facebook game, and All3Media recently let gamers create their own new levels with which to challenge their friends. The idea is to tap into the super-fans, who have boundless amounts of energy and ideas for shows they love. Talk about power to the people.

Many shows have also tapped into Twitter for promotion and All3Media plans to take that to the next level. For crime drama Hinterland, which is set to air on BBC Wales this year and BBC4 next year, All- 3Media International is constructing a Twitter ‘conversation plan’, so that instead of random cast or crew members tweeting before, during and after the show, producers can create and send out ‘timed tweets’ that a local broadcaster can load onto Twitter while the show is on air, timed to coincide with certain moments in the show.

All3Media senior vice-president of digital and head of business affairs Gary Woolf says it’s about finding ways the broadcaster and producer can co-own the social experience. “It’s about trying to spot things that will trend and that will keep people engrossed in the show both during and between transmissions,” he explains.

The lines between marketing and production are blurring and are only going to become even more intertwined. Perhaps by the time Prince George is grown up, social media won’t be called social media any more – just simply entertainment.

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