#FWBL Fails to be “Friends”

Cheaply trying to knock-off of the 90s fan-favorite sitcom Friends, the new show Friends With Better Lives weakly attempts to be THE show that everyone is talking about. This new sitcom was being considered as the replacement for the How I Met Your Mother’s time slot until an astonishing 31% drop in viewership after only one episode convinced CBS executives otherwise.

The central characters in the show are boring, offering little excitement to the show’s already doomed future. The predictability of the conflicts the show centers on – fear of being single in the city, complications with dating, and marriage – only makes it less enticing. Although the producer of Friends is on staff for this show and the cast list boasts some big names, it’s future is looking pretty grim. While it would be hard for anything to fully match up to the popularity of the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, this certainly will not even come close.

Social media is a huge factor in determining shows’ popularity, and CBS rolled out a massive social media push for the show’s premiere. The show had a #FWBL live tweet event, trying to start a social media trend and drive excitement and engagement. While simply typing #FWBL into the Twitter search bar yields results, a vast majority of those tweets are from cast members, @fwblcbs, the main CBS twitter handle, or entertainment magazines. (@Vanderjames – cast member – even tweeted a picture of the cast live-tweeting during the show!)

While cast members of NBC’s Scandal live-tweet during episodes, they are published more candidly while this type of social media promotion feels forced and unnatural. Fan engagement on Twitter is low, and Twitter is the most popular platform for social TV discussions.

Where does this leave the future of Friends with Better Lives? It doesn’t really look like it’s headed anywhere, but only time will tell if this show can match the pre-premier buzz executives were looking to create.

TV + Live Music = Heightened Social Experience

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Live music broadcasts on television are experiencing a serious comeback, with viewers and sponsors eager to tap into the action. In the past decade, popularity of such broadcasts was declining, especially among young viewers. Recently however, live music events have pulled in massive live, at home, and digital audiences. Some recent examples of such broadcasts that have influenced conversations on social platforms include the Grammy Awards and the Beatles 50th Anniversary.
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This year, the Grammy Awards was viewed by over 28 million people, one of the best showings in decades. The Grammy’s is the second most viewed of award shows, next to The Oscars, and garnered over 34 million social media interactions, a record setting accomplishment in the 2013-2014 season social events, according to SocialGuide.

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“The Beatles: The Night That Changed America- A GRAMMY Salute” celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The performance by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr was legendary and was accompanied by guest performances and presentations by Maroon 5, Alicia Keys and John Legend, David Letterman, Brad Paisley and Pharrell Williams, and Stevie Wonder (among others) making it a live music event that will go down in history. The broadcast created a lot of chatter on social media, especially on Twitter, with performers sharing sneak peaks and audience members anticipating and applauding the show.

The buzz around live music airings has established these shows as prime air time for sponsors and advertisers, who are willing to allocate large portions of their budgets to these broadcasts because of the escalated live viewer engagement — CBS charged advertisers as much as $1 million for a 30-second spot during the Grammys. Music is the most-discussed topic on Twitter in America, and advertisers are aware that leveraging these audiences has the potential to receive unparalleled reach.

Brands are eager to cash in on live music experiences, as research has found that live music audiences are more receptive of advertisements and sponsors than audiences at sporting events, charity events, and art exhibitions. This broadcast genre has infinite capacity, as there is always audience appetite, and hence social engagement.

“The nature of live television and those types of events, it’s the time, it’s the moments that people don’t want to miss,” notes SocialGuide. “That’s the beauty of social … [it] allows you to engage in real time and share that excitement with that larger audience. It’s in the moment, the ability to share in the moment. You know, once the awards are announced, the awards are announced.”

For more information on other live TV music broadcasts and their influence on social platforms, check out Gabirel Beltrone’s piece in AdWeek.