Every once in a while, the media landscape shifts. Radio enjoyed a reign of power for several years until the television industry began to take off in the mid 1930s. It wasn’t long before moving pictures were the medium of choice in households across the Western world.
Television has held a pretty strong monopoly on entertainment ever since. That was fine, until a few years ago when internet streaming became faster and more powerful, and the online world began to soar with constant new inventions, disruptive ideas and lightning-fast reactions to current events. The television industry instantly began to feel the brain drain as creatively minded young graduates were drawn towards funky start-up companies with AstroTurf meeting rooms and pizza Fridays.
Not only that, but producers began to fear that their audiences would be drawn elsewhere, and there was fuel for their concern. In a study from NMIncite it was revealed that despite the fact that one third of the social media population were under 18, only 12% of all conversation about television on social media sites came from the next-generation age group, begging the question ‘is television only being watched by the out-going generations?’It doesn’t look great, but in my opinion, the television industry doesn’t need to panic. As with every industry across all sectors of the economy, the digital revolution represents a shake-up and an opportunity to demonstrate just how nimble, creative and forward-thinking your organisation really is.
EConsultancy recently labelled Twitter and Facebook “virtual watercoolers”, and they’re right. The incidental, ‘isn’t the weather terrible’ conversations that used to be reserved for taxi drivers and hairdressers has gone virtual. At any time of the night or day we can tap into the chitty-chatty world of social media to air our opinions and see what everyone else thinks. That kind of Facebook or Twitter campaign is perfect for television – something whole nations have in common.
Sign in to Twitter during an episode of X-Factor and you’ll see what I mean. When Amanda Lily was kicked off the show a couple of weeks ago, the Twitter-sphere went into overdrive and a ‘twitition’ was launched within minutes, demanding that she be allowed back on the show. For a show like the X-Factor, a Twitter campaign is an absolute god-send. ITV have also been quick to encourage TOWIE viewers to take to social networking, setting up dedicated pages and reading out fans comments during the ad breaks. It’s ‘added value’, and viewers love it!
Digital won’t kill television anymore than television killed radio. The media landscape is as broad and varied as it’s viewers, and there’s room for more than one central player. Instead of panicking or burying their heads in the sand, television producers should be taming the beast, and integrating Facebook and Twitter campaigns into their shows to create richer content and more engaged viewers.
Cover image courtesy of Quinn Dombrovski, flickr.com
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