I don’t remember the last time I watched anything on television in real time. I don’t know what days or times my favorite shows air. They are simply in the cue, available to me when I want them. Even football games, which have much more of a “live” necessity, I set to record and start watching and hour or so in and catch up in real time by the end of the game.
In this practice, I’ve noticed that as much as I’m usually tethered to my social network, I have to step away from it (especially during games) or I’ll see scores or spoiler information. Not to mention, if I were to tweet something about a show I’m watching, I’m likely to look like a total moron because it’s not happening in real time. (Accidentally did this during the Olympics when I didn’t realize the race we were watching was a day old.)
I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but, it’s got me thinking…will social media make people return to the traditional watching of television programming in real time, or, will broadcasters make a shift to accommodate online social behaviors?
This study conducted by eXpansys in the UK found that people spend as much, if not more time, on Facebook than they do watching television. Gone are the days when we turn off the computer, head into the living room and flip on a TV program. If we’re not already consuming the web and TV on the same device, chances are, the tablet or laptop is within arms reach.
What might this hybrid of social media and television look like?
Keep up with the experience.
Inherently, humans don’t want to be alone. We don’t want to miss out. And, we certainly don’t want to be left behind. Knowing that conversations are happening about your favorite team, character, or plot are incentive enough to want to be a part of the conversation. And, it’s likely that this will need to occur in real time.
Share the experience. As we continue to expand our online networks, humans will want to share real life experiences with their online connections. For instance, when the CMA awards were on (yeah, I just admitted that…mock if you want) I learned that there were folks in my network who were also fans. We connected and watched together.
Comment on the experience.
From reality shows to news programs, social contact info is being posted during performances and reports, encouraging viewers to comment on the content as it’s happening.
Contribute to the experience.
Beyond sharing the experience with online networks, people are starting to actually interact with others, contributing to the content or outcome of the programing as was done with the My Generation ipad app or as was done with the Twittersodios of Spain’s El Barco, in which the team brought 14 Twitter profiles to life within in the TV episodes.
We seem to be in a period of experimentation with this, but it’s obvious that television content will marry with social in order to stay relevant. And, bringing an online community together for a television event occurring in real-time seems like it could become a more common occurrence.
Update: this is a great post by WCCO-TV Minneapolis’ Greg Litman that further illustrates these thoughts.