Monday, 13 August 2012

Reality Television and Facebook?

Reality TV on Facebook

A Chance to Dance is a new American reality show that will become the first show to air both on a cable channel and Facebook.

The move taken by the show’s producers, Nigel and Simon Lythgoe, highlights their ambitions to generate more of a buzz and subsequently capitalise on this with improved audience ratings. It has been recognised, particularly from the recent Olympics, that viewers are often online whilst they watch, contributing to various social media sites. This is something that television companies could really look to harness and reality TV seems a perfect start.

Although there have been increasing steps to combine social media with reality TV in recent times, this move is the ultimate step and may see the show really prosper. In similar shows, Twitter has been utilised to involve the audience, creating hashtags to spark conversation and debate. In A Chance to Dance, Facebook viewers will be able to post comments and chat about the show, answer trivia questions, get access to exclusive footage and witness interviews with the producers. Clearly, the combination of the two will immerse viewers even more than before and will hopefully help build a bigger audience.

By targeting fans of the previous shows American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, the producers hope to see a large proportion of Facebook viewers during the shows air. These viewers will be required to pay $1.99 per show or $11.99 for seven episodes. The network company Ovation will not be using the Facebook credit service and will instead opt to use credit card or Paypal transactions.

Facebook credits

The decision not to utilise this service signifies part of a growing trend which recognises the relative inoperability of the service. Reality show Big Brother has experienced a great amount of difficulty with the service and recently had to completely suspend it for one eviction. Facebook themselves have begun to move away from the service, choosing to use actual money in their Bingo and Slots Friendzy games. The Financial Times has reported that Facebook are likely to discontinue the service ‘at the end of the year after hearing from merchants that the 30 per cent cut it took on transactions was unpalatable’.

Social media and other shows

Having Facebook stream live shows does make a lot of sense in the reality TV world but if this were to branch into other areas it could have detrimental effects. With reality TV, arguably the shows don’t require a great amount of concentration and social media lends itself to the format as viewers can voice their opinions and feel part of the programme. Conversely, if a new drama were to be aired on Facebook, viewers are likely to not pay it their full attention, possibly missing significant information and superior camera work. Whilst social media can be beneficial in generating the hype, perhaps keep these shows to television. In spite of this, viewers could be online anyway during watching a show. Either way, it is difficult to see credible shows turning to social media as another way to stream their shows.

It will be intriguing though, to see whether this move will be mirrored by other shows in the future. Were it to prove a success with A Chance to Dance, then it is likely to be seen again. Hopefully, were this to be the case, the shows would be given the same attention as if it were shown on television.

What do you see as the future for television and social media?

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