Social Television – Can Twitter Defeat the DVR?

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TV beats TivoI noticed tonight a quiet had come over my Twitter feed as the SXSW conference came to an end. Scared to look at the 1000s of posts in my Google Reader, I turned to that old favorite – TV. And I must admit to being an American Idol fan as it works so well to get my family talking about the show. It is a perfect example of a live, in person social object at work. The content is there, we are there and we talk.

Even though I didn’t attend SXSW, I noticed the same thing happened there. Twitter made every session a social object. The event was the content, the crowd was there and they were talking to each other on Twitter. The same thing happened at the academy awards as fans logged into to Twitter to chat about the show as it went along.

Now social broadcasting is not new, as we found out in our interview of Nowlive’s CEO Kevin Bromber , but doing it at television scale is. Twitter has been there before, and either Twitter or something like it could do it again.

As I watched Idol, cheering at the TV when Chakizee did his song and dissing Ramiele for being boring, I wondered where was my Twitter. I paused the DVR and went to check. Nothing, I could not find anything on Twitter. A quick search showed me there had only been 3,330 tweets that contain “American Idol” and 4,650 that contain “Idol”. This compares to 52,600 that contain a mention of SXSW. American Idol has 33 million viewers, but virtually no discussion on Twitter. SXSW has a few thousand and its everywhere on Twitter.

Why so many Twitters at SXSW and virtually none for Idol. Clearly, there’s something demographically skewed on Twitter, but the question is what’s the possibility. If we married TV with something like Twitter, what would be different?

It seems to me that if we combine great TV with Twitter like functionality, we can turn television shows back into live social objects that keep us engaged and make us want to watch in real time. Maybe Twitter, or something like it, can save TV from the death spiral of the DVR. By giving the audience a way to participate in real time, it would change the dynamic of the show and completely change the viewing pattern. Everyone could join in on the social event and that is the kind of TV we watch live.

If I produced a TV show, or ran a TV network, I’d be thinking how to I get Twitter working for me.

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[tags]Twitter, Television[/tags]

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One thought on “Social Television – Can Twitter Defeat the DVR?

  1. I agree. I look on Twitter for people who might be watching the same thing I am watching. For example, Ghost Adventures is on tonight and I have no one to grumble to! It would have been fun to have a bunch of people also watching the show across the country and interacting with one another. The only problem is that when you tweet a lot about one topic you annoy people on your list who are not interested in that topic. I guess you could create an account just for your favorite TV show. Or perhaps there will be a way to use hashtag-like methods that targets only certain groups of people.