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Can Social Media Save the TV Star?

Can Social Media decide the fate of TV Shows?

Not yet, but maybe some day. While a lot of social media buzz for an upcom­ing show should at least pique the inter­ests of adver­tis­ers, this atten­tion has­n’t always result­ed in high rat­ings for the next hit show.

For exam­ple, accord­ing to Ad Age the most buzzed about new show this year via social media is the CW’s “Arrow,” even though CW series per­form to his­tor­i­cal­ly low num­bers. NBC’s “Rev­o­lu­tion” would be anoth­er hit due to a mas­sive social media buzz, even though it fol­lows “The Voice,” which has had declin­ing num­bers. How­ev­er, just because pop­u­lar­i­ty on social media has­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly trans­lat­ed to high rat­ings on tele­vi­sion, it does­n’t mean it won’t in the future.

Social Media Works For Some Tele­vi­sion…

For event tele­vi­sion, like sports, tal­ent or awards shows, social media seems to work rel­a­tive­ly well at dri­ving view­ers to watch. This may be due to the fact that these shows ask for the view­ers thoughts and opin­ions, or cause them to be out­spo­ken about what is hap­pen­ing onscreen in front of them. Peo­ple like to be part of the event itself and the com­bi­na­tion of watch­ing the show and using social media at the same time helps this to hap­pen. How­ev­er, the num­bers here are still skewed. For exam­ple, accord­ing to Neilsen rat­ings in 2012, the MTV Video Music awards had more social media buzz than any event in his­to­ry, though their rat­ings were half of what they were the pri­or year. How­ev­er, this may be due to the fact that MTV choos­es to run the awards show repeat­ed­ly after it airs.

…But Not for Oth­er Types of TV

The afore­men­tioned exam­ples like “Arrow” and “Rev­o­lu­tion” may have the best social media num­bers right now, but series that aren’t even close to them in social media buzz will prob­a­bly beat them in over­all rat­ings. This is because most of the peo­ple using social media, at this point, are the younger gen­er­a­tions, who are eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed or find ways to watch the shows they want to watch on their own time. The old­er gen­er­a­tions, the ones who tune into CBS on a night­ly basis for two to three hours at a time, don’t use social media.

Because of this, it’s hard to tell if it can be a pre­dic­tor of what tele­vi­sion shows will work and which ones won’t—at least at this point. A few decades from now how­ev­er, when younger gen­er­a­tions are old­er yet still using social media in their every­day lives, it may be more accu­rate. In oth­er words, we’ll just have to wait until next sea­son to see what real­ly works.

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