BuzzFeed Partners with Bravo and IFC to Launch Social Tune In Program

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BuzzFeed, the popular list-driven social news site, recently announced that NBC Universal’s Bravo and AMC’s IFC networks are the first two partners for their Social Tune In Program. This program will allow advertisers to cross-promote their content on BuzzFeed as well as their own websites. According to BuzzFeed, the Tune In Program will create “a full circle TV, social and digital program for advertisers.”

BuzzFeed president and COO Jon Steinberg said, “Everyone talks about the two-screen experience being synchronous but it is also asynchronous. People learn about the shows they want to watch online, and after watching those shows, they go back to the web to read and share about those shows.”

In connection with the Social Tune In Program, IFC has created a recurring on-air Saturday night ‘BuzzFeed Block,’ which is a double-feature bill of movies accompanied by accompanying lists exclusively created for IFC by BuzzFeed and available on both of their websites.

According to IFC, the ‘BuzzFeed Block’ has helped the network increase viewership on Saturday nights by 16% in the 18-49 and 18-34 age groups in the first quarter of 2014. Bravo has used the program to promote the “Online Dating Rituals for the American Male” on BuzzFeed as well as the “Real Housewives Awards.” With such positive results already, it is obvious the Social Tune In Program is working and will likely continue to grow with new partnerships to come.

 

 

 

 

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#INeedMyDodgers Failing Hard

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Fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are up in arms. The team signed a massive $7 billion, 25 year deal partnering with Time Warner Cable to provide an exclusive, all Dodgers all the time channel that shows all regular season and spring training games, as well as special Dodgers programming.

However, because Time Warner Cable hasn’t signed deals with any other local cable or satellite providers to feature the channel, many fans are without access to Southern California’s most popular baseball team. And the fans have hijacked a social campaign initially launched to put pressure on the local providers to give in to Time Warner Cable’s demands, and turned it around against the cable provider.

#INeedMyDodgers is the social campaign that has been featured by Time Warner Cable on-screen during games, and online on their Twitter account and Facebook page. The channel, Time Warner Cable SportsNet LA, continues to publish posts with the hashtag although fans are outraged at their parent company’s inability to reach a compromise with local affiliates.

Most posts are game related, but the backlash has been quite severe. Fans with any other cable or satellite provider, by some estimates about 70% of the region, have turned to social media to express their frustration. For example, an Easter post meant to amp up tune-in to a Dodger day-game, features a top comment from an angry fan:

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Another post shows fans clearly blaming Time Warner Cable for their frustration:

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The team, projected to be one of the strongest squads in all of Major League Baseball, is facing serious backlash from its fans due to its TV deal. And their chosen network is seemingly struggling to control its own social media campaign. SportsNet LA is hoping that with enough fan pressure, other providers will keel over and accept their terms. They have even started a website with a fill-in form meant for fans to send to their providers in order to pressure them into a deal.

But as the comments show, even that doesn’t seem to be working.

#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.

Zeebox Social TV App Relaunches as Beamly

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The UK based Social TV App, Zeebox, has recently rebranded and relaunched their website, and iOS and Android apps under the new name of Beamly. Originally launched in 2011, Beamly wanted to change from being seen as a geeky TV guide app to a co-viewing experience that would allow users to follow and discuss their favorite TV shows and celebrities all day long.

Currently with 2 million active users, Zeebox’s original features, such as the live chat and screen sync functions, will remain. The additional new features allow for many more interactions, making Beamly more of a social network based around television interests. Users will now have access to news feeds and social media topics about their favorite TV shows, and they will be able to follow their favorite TV shows and celebrities at any time.  Co-founder and CFO Anthony Rose explained, “We had a dream which was to create participation TV… One day we realized that people perceived Zeebox as a new type of TV guide rather than a co-viewing experience. So in the last six months we’ve set about transitioning from model one, which was essentially that synchronized Twitter playalong experience, to a fully fledged social network for television.”

With the relaunch, Beamly is able to adapt to the vast changes that are occurring in TV viewing. Along with the changing trends of TV viewer habits, there is also the change in audience that Beamly has seen with their users. According to Rose, once users were allowed to follow shows, they were using the app twice as often, and once shows were allowed to follow them back, users were returning ten times as often. This feeling of a community attracted a lot of females and transformed Beamly’s users from a group of geeky men to a diverse audience, that is now mostly 16-24 year old females in the US.

By being able to adapt so well to the constantly changing TV viewing habits, Beamly will be sure to increase their user base and shake that geeky image that they previously had.

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.

Why is Everyone on TV Dying? [SPOILERS]

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Even with the capabilities of on-demand, Netflix, and streaming, TV shows often dictate the way we live our lives and make our daily schedules. We get to know the characters on our favorite shows like they are our friends, hating their enemies as if they were our own. We feel TV characters’ pain and happiness; sadly, many TV fans have felt quite a bit of grief these past few weeks due to the deaths of so many characters.

The most recent TV death was on the series finale of How I Met Your Mother, angering loyal fans and causing a huge reaction on Twitter. (#HIMYM and #HIMYMfinale were still trending more than 24 hours after the episode aired). Killing off the mother played by Cristin Milioti was a tragic ending to the much beloved show. Despite the scriptwriters’ forward-looking approach to the final episode, which looked into the characters’ lives years into the future, viewers felt this was an untimely death. Will this ruin fans’ fond memories of the show?

But this has not been the only major death of a TV character in recent weeks. Shocking and devastating, the love interest and leading man in The Good Wife, Will Gardner, was killed in a seemingly random shooting in a scene at the courthouse. While defending a case, Will’s client stole a gun from court security and began shooting; Will was trying to wrestle the gun away when he was shot and killed. Although this was written into the script to relieve actor Josh Charles from the show, it leaves fans wondering where the show will go next. The romance and tension between good wife Alicia Florrick and Will Gardner has been a central plot point. Will’s death caused pain and grief, shown through the activity online through Twitter:

Now we can only wait to see how The Good Wife’s script, fans, and characters will cope with the loss of its knight in shining armor.

Scandal’s White House Press Secretary and husband of the Chief of Staff, James Novak, was also murdered in a recent episode. Shot by Jake of B613, the end of one week’s episode showed Jake holding a gun pointed at James and David. However, fans had to wait a grueling week to see which man would be dead in the subsequent episode. One of the most fun-loving spirits in such a serious show, the excruciatingly long and painful death of James caused quite a buzz on social media.

The real question behind all of these TV deaths is: why? Why are they all occurring at the same time? Can the fans handle it? Social media tells us how the viewers are feeling, but only time will tell if these shows can survive the premature deaths of their main men and leading ladies.

New stats on social TV & the second-screen experience

One in six primetime television viewers use social media simultaneously, whether it is related to the show that they are watching or not. A recent study by the Council for Research Excellence (CRE) sampled 1,665 respondents in late 2013 and found radical increases in social TV statistics from a study carried out earlier in 2013 by Deloitte. The CRE study focused on second screen behavior and the sharp increase in using social media while viewing TV programs forecasts an even steeper rise in 2014.

The info-graphic below portrays a breakdown of these users activities. Of the 16% of television audience using social media at the same time, about half (7%) is engaging in social media related to the programming that they are watching. There are actually more viewers who are engaging in non-show related social media.

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This report found that Facebook is the primary platform used in the second-screen social media experience, almost doubling the frequency of Twitter in the behavior. However, Twitter is the leading platform for program related, second-screen social engagement. A study in early 2013 found that more than 90% of online conversations about TV are on Twitter.

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Despite the rising presence of social media in the TV viewing experience, traditional TV promotions are still more influential and effective in recommending new shows to viewers than social media ads.

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Could Instagram Surpassing Twitter for Mobile Users Increase Social TV Competition?

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This past week Instagram surpassed Twitter for having the most mobile users according to data from eMarketer. This news is extremely important for social TV as Twitter continues to be the number one social platform for TV viewers. Twitter has about 30.8 million users while Instagram now has 35 million and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

According to a study done by the Council for Research Excellence, 1 out of 6 primetime TV viewers are using social media and about one half of their social media activity is related to programming they are watching. Additionally, social media was more than twice as effective at driving viewers to new shows than returning shows. This data along with Instagram overtaking Twitter in mobile users is incredibly important for TV executives to think about. Twitter continues to be the leading social media site that TV shows use, both in and out of season, to communicate with their fans. As consumers become more mobile-minded, social strategies will need to change to keep up with shifting platform usage.

 

50% of Tweets are Related to Sports

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Since Twitter was first introduced in 2006, the social network has become the first choice outlet for anyone who wants to engage online while watching TV. People are constantly “live tweeting” various TV specials, whether it be the newest episode of Scandal, or the Oscars. But one genre that seems to engage Twitter users far more than any other is sports.

According to data recently released from Nielson Twitter TV Ratings, an astounding 50% of all tweets about TV in North America were related to sporting events in 2013. Sports comprised 12 out of the 20 most tweeted-about TV broadcasts last year and Nielsen suggests that “this high level of engagement around sports events is significant as teams, programmers and advertisers look to reach and amplify messaging to audiences across screens.”

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This study comes just in time for March Madness, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that started this past week. For the first time ever the semi-final round will be shown on cable TV, making this a huge opportunity for marketers everywhere as March Madness generates the most TV ad revenue over all other pro sport league’s postseason broadcasts.

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And while sporting events attract conversation from fans all over the world, broadcasters and advertisers alike will need to find clever and interesting ways to join the conversation and continue to drive engagement.