Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Twitter and TV

Twitter’s chief executive has spoken recently about its value for live TV shows, hinting that this may result in a tie-up with some TV advertisers. The theory is that tools such as Twitter enhance the experience of watching certain kinds of TV shows live, particularly sports events, by enabling people to communicate with their friends while they’re watching the show. While this may be the case, is it enough to make any tie-up with TV advertisers worthwhile?

Like many other people I’m often tinkering with my laptop while I’m watching TV – but I’m probably doing that during ad breaks when I’m less interested in what’s on the screen. I expect many other people do the same. People may interact with their friends using Twitter, Facebook, or instant messaging during TV shows, but the reality is that while they’re doing this, they’ve taken their eyes off the TV screen and are busy using another device. From the point of view of the advertisers, is this really very different from people watching the ads on fast-forward? If nothing else, they’re still looking at the TV when they’re fast-forwarding through the ads and may actually be paying more attention than otherwise.

The social aspects of watching TV shouldn’t be underestimated – just look at the number of people who watch sports events on TV at bars and pubs – but there’s no guarantee that a social media service can tap into this in a way that helps the advertisers.

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