DVRs, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go have all made tuning into our favorite TV shows on our own time and without commercial interruptions much easier. Our favorite half-hour sitcoms are now 20 minutes and we can watch a half-hour show and an hour long show in just 60 minutes. Why sit through commercials when you can get 10-20 minutes of your life back?
Is there anything that can be done to draw viewers back to watching their favorite shows in real time? It looks like there is. A guilty pleasure TV show of mine recently introduced live polling and voting during their 12th season. Project Runway utilized second-screen interactivity to urge fans to watch the show in real time and vote for their favorite designers, ask audience members if they agree with the judges, and determine who fans thought had the strongest or the weakest design.
Many shows, including Project Runway, have tapped into second-screen interactivity by encouraging viewers to use hashtags specifically for the show, vote for contests, and select activities or challenges that would be featured on the show. America’s Next Top Model has a (not very well defined) social media score from viewers that impacts a contest’s chance of winning the contest. Chopped has special episodes in which participants have to create dishes from basket ingredients selected by show viewers, and Bones has a fan of the week that is determined via social media.
What makes me wonder about the live polling is what impact it has on the show overall. Live polling allows the producers to see what people are thinking as they watch the show. Do they like a specific designer? What would happen to the viewership if the judgers sent a specific designer home? If you’re familiar with the show you know that host Tim Gunn has a “save” in which he can bring back an eliminated designer. Live polling is a great tool to use in attempting to make decisions based on audience reactions.
What do you think? Would you base scripting decisions off of audience feelings, or do you think you would move forward with the show as planned? What else would you do what that audience information?