The Grammys and The Walking Dead. Living (and dead) proof that event TV can thrive in the Internet age. As well as advertising.

February 13, 2012

Adelle and one of her many Grammy awards…

“I ate my Grammy!”

Last night was a big night for television and social media alike. Not only was it was the 54th annual Grammy awards but The Walking Dead reanimated for the second part of its second season. Both events garnered beaucoup viewers of the most desirable demographics, which meant a ton of buzz on Twitter and Facebook.

I had a ball participating with the Grammy telecast, syncing my jibes with friends and followers. And judging from my Twitter feed you did, too. In a very real way, being able to play along with the telecast made watching it infinitely more fun. Not so long ago, the Grammys would have come and gone without me. Unless I knew ahead of time that one of my favorite artists was performing I just didn’t give a damn. Knowing I could play Mystery Science Theater to the show’s foibles and fantastica made it must-see and must-comment TV. That troubled music icon, Whitney Houston died the day before only added to the juice. We needed to see what they, the music industry, would do. Her passing, plus the return of singer-songwriter Adelle after a lengthy hiatus, made the Grammys a perfect storm for fans and voyeurs alike.

Mystery Science Theater 3000, ahead of its time.

The Walking Dead even has a show dedicated to such fans called The Talking Dead, where fans discuss what just transpired interacting with each other and the show’s host and his guests. On AMC’s website one can view extended clips of next week’s episode as well as view countless insider peaks at the making of it. We become involved with the show in ways unimaginable to previous generations.

Like the Superbowl a couple weeks ago, event TV is flourishing not fading in the new world of social networks. Shows like American Idol, The Academy Awards and other televised contests only benefit from fan involvement. Experts and pundits call this engagement. And indeed it does seem a better verb than watching. To use another popular word, the “experience” is vastly improved. (In fact, this year’s Superbowl and Grammys had the most viewers of all time.)

Marketers wisely play along, knowing that their commercials will become part of the “conversation” as well. The savviest of the bunch provide social components, offering content that not only synchs with the telecast but stimulates viewers into behaving as well. Honda’s much-hyped parody of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off contained numerous hidden references to the movie, urging fans to re-examine the spot to try and find them. This cross-examination undoubtedly led to millions more views on the Internet, not to mention publicity in magazines, newspapers, radio and TV shows.

Deja-vous. Ferris has been here before.

For networks and producers social media has the desired effect of drawing people to the actual telecast, as opposed to watching it later via DVR. There’s little joy in Tweeting to the encore presentation of The Walking Dead or any other show, no matter how popular. This makes appointment television relevant. Again. It also provides advertisers incentive to create better work so that, it too, can be part of the conversation. Undoubtedly, this will lead to more creativity in advertising. Good news to all of us who make ads for a living.

Update: More living/dead proof from Adage


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