According to some entertainment critics, we’re in the midst of a new Golden Age of Television.
Not only are the big networks churning out some decent fare, the growth of cable networks has led to the creation of a host of interesting, exciting and envelope-pushing shows that people are watching both in real time and online through services like iTunes, Hulu and Vudu.
Shows like Mad Men, True Blood, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story are not only finding new ways to tell stories and telling them in new ways, they are also the new source of indelible storytelling moments that people want to talk about.
Forget “Must See TV”– many of these programs are “OMG TV” — the kind of shows that end and you find your mouth hanging open, thinking something like…
- I can’t believe he just shot him.
- I can’t believe they just had sex.
- I can’t believe she just ate that.*
And the first thing you want to do is talk to someone about what you’ve just watched, in order to find out if their mouth is hanging open, too.
That’s where social media comes into play and is the perfect yin to OMG TV’s yang.
From watching a Twitter hashtag feed while a show is in progress to debating what went down afterwards on a Facebook Fan Page, social media is the new real-time water cooler for the world and the first place people are starting to turn to process their OMG TV moments.
And that’s not likely to change any time soon.
The Fab Four are coming for your TV.
The cover story in the latest issue of Fast Company discusses how the “Fab Four” – Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook — are all making a play to “define the future of TV” (explored in point #5, “The Living Room”) and join in on all the fun.
While much of the Fab Four’s plans revolve around creating hardware, social media is also very much part of their big picture plans. According to the article, “Social signals — such as indications of what shows your friends are watching and hints as to what shows you might like, given those friendships, — will be part of the mix, as will live conversations with friends watching the same show.”
As per usual, Facebook is most powerfully poised to capitalize on this evolution.
With its current deal-making to release streaming movies and TV pilots on the site itself, its ownership of thousands of Fan Pages for TV shows and its integration of Hulu and Netflix (not in the US, yet) into the platform so people can share what they’re watching, Facebook is creating an increasingly seamless platform for viewing entertainment, and TV, in particular.
Imagine someday watching your favorite show within Facebook itself. Not only would the platform be able to gather data on what you’re watching, when, and with whom, but could also monitor those jaw-dropping moments of yours by encouraging you to click the “like” button when they happen. In love with the outfit the actor was wearing in the last scene? Facebook could serve you up an ad in real time so you could buy it on the spot.
If I were the Nielsen ratings company, I’d be shaking in my boots right now.
So, Golden Age or not, one thing you can be assured of is that TV is going to continue to be revolutionized over the next decade. And, given that those changes are more closely tied then ever to our online habits and social signals, it’s likely those will be revolutionized, too.
What’s your take? Is all this change a good thing or a bad thing? Do you have a favorite OMG TV show or moment and where do you turn when you want to talk about it?
*Gotta tell ya, it’s been years since I literally covered my eyes while watching a scene on TV, but that “snack for the mommy-to-be” moment in the “Piggy Piggy” episode of American Horror Story? Too OMG even for me.