TV + Social Networking = Strictly Social
Signs of the Internet melding with traditional TV have been emerging for quite some time with sites like Hulu and TV.com. This past fall, Fox network experimented with live tweeting during episodes of Fringe and Glee called "Tweet-peats." Today, TV viewers and the digerati can enjoy the best of the best of both worlds to an even greater extent when social networking and online TV merges on the same platform - with a new social media application called "Strictly Social."
First introduced with the BBC's version of The Apprentice earlier this year, viewers could visit the TV show's online microsite and predict which candidates would 'get the ax' at the end of each episode.
This year's the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing series – which can be viewed live on the BBC website – have moved the needle further to elicit greater interaction with the viewing audience. The Strictly Social website allows fans to predict judges' scores, post their text comments in a real-time chat box and answer quiz questions pertaining to the show.
Viewers can also post positive or negative critiques with a simple "wow," "boo" or "gasp" and a Web site widget will aggregate the consensus and display the critique words in small-to-large font sizes dependent on the results of the vote.
"As far as we're concerned now, social media is part of what people do everyday and social viewing is part of our wider strategy for entertainment," says Jo Twist, BBC multi-platform commissioner for entertainment and BBC Switch. Like others in the entertainment space, Twist is focusing on the "fan" element to drive interaction.
Twist wants the Strictly Social application to add a playful element for the viewers, but not detract from watching the show. If one witnessed the Tweet-peat experiment conducted by Fox TV in the States this past September, the major complaint that surfaced from the viewing audience was the distracting Twitter status stream that scrolled at the bottom third of the TV screen.
According to Twist, Strictly Social will add more social media components throughout the season, including having professional dancers deliver live comments in the site's online chat room. Twist believes that attaching applications to the show will attract a wider demographic.
"The older traditional TV audience is not all on Twitter or Facebook, but they might want to do something like Strictly Social which is part of their normal sofa experience," says Twist.
US Audiences can join in as well, by registering 30 minutes prior to the the show's start (approximately 12 Noon ET on Saturdays (1800 hours in the UK), and the the interaction continues for 15 minutes after Strictly Come Dancing finishes on TV. Viewers can read about this season's cast members and learn the results of previous episodes, at the show's Web site.