A major change in live entertainment in the advent of the internet age is the desire for interaction and engagement from all involved parties. Content creators, providers, and networks are not just looking for viewers, but dedicated fans who engage with their intellectual property on a variety of platforms. This engagement increases the need for viewers to watch live and participate in a community around their favorite pieces of content.
Brands now can connect and interact with customers instantly, and in creative methods to build an affinity. This is especially important about live content, as it gives viewers an incentive to watch content the first time it airs.
Time-shifted viewing and on-demand content libraries have made it easier for consumers to view content on their own time, and often without commercial interruption (obviously, this non-live viewing is not a benefit to a key of the television industry: advertising.) Social media engagement can help alleviate the issues associated with decreased live viewing. Viewers have a clear desire to become part of the conversation and engage with their favorite shows, which cannot happen in real time if they are not watching live. Thus, it creates an opportunity for content creators, providers, and sponsors to engage with the community discussing their programming and helping cultivate more conversation around certain shows and events.
Marketing Tool vs. Content Distribution Tool
Within social media, content creators have opportunities to use the platform solely as a marketing tool or as a content distribution tool. In its simplest form, this dichotomy can be described as those who only use social media to promote video content or those who use it to distribute video content.
Promoting a program on social media is certainly not a new development, but it has become more prevalent in recent years. Some marketing uses for social media are:
- Programming reminders: Social media in its most basic form can remind viewers when a particular program is going to air, and where they can access it. Consumers who are aimlessly scrolling their feeds can see that their desired show and event is airing soon, and tune into a program they may have forgotten about.
- Highlights, clips, and shoulder programming: Social media is good for promoting clips, highlights, or shoulder programming to boost viewer investment in a particular franchise or event. Video designed specifically for social media has become essential for promotion, with nearly every show or event organizing interviews, talk shows, and another programming that serves as complementary to the actual program.
- Driving interaction: Content creators and sponsors can both utilize social media to interact with fans of their content. Interactive Q&As, contests, and polls are just some of the ways social media is used to both humanize brands and build anticipation toward a live show or event.
Many of these same phenomena exist not just in social media, but also with accompanying apps. Content creators can advertise their companion app during the broadcast of a particular program, and push notifications to users to access said app for a variety of reasons both during and outside the live broadcast of a particular program including:
- Reward programs: Viewers can earn rewards for logging into the app daily, completing tasks, or accessing the app during the live user broadcast of a program.
- Augmented reality: Content creators can set up augmented reality and other bonus content within the app that serves as complimentary to their program.
Companion apps help content companies create additional touchpoints with their fan base, which can help drive additional viewers or compel viewers to tune in live to something they would have watched time-shifted otherwise.
As a content distribution tool, social media can serve many of the same marketing functions for content creators, in addition to broadcasting the content. Now that social media companies have entered the content space, they have incentivized content creators to utilize social media platforms to drive viewers to live broadcasts on social media. Some distinct features of social media content distribution are:
- Direct link to content: While players in the content space can still provide the additional programming in a marketing sense, they can also link directly to their program if it is broadcast via social media directly. Users scrolling their feed can tune in directly to content that interests them, rather than having to go to another device to access it.
- Integrated engagement: Content companies can use the built-in engagement functionality of social media to drive conversation while the event is going on. Hashtags and built-in chat have helped to facilitate the conversation around an event or show while it is broadcasting live, creating a community around that programming.
Interactivity with Content
A significant opportunity and development occurring in live entertainment is the ability for content creators to engage viewers in an interactive way. Some examples of interactivity are:
- Trivia, sweepstakes, and giveaways: A successful early iteration of interactivity is the integration of sweepstakes and giveaways with social media or companion apps for a piece of live content. Content creators prompt users to post on social media or submit feedback via an app to win prizes. This is extremely successful when content creators can utilize trivia to engage viewers throughout a particular program and can provide prizes to those who are successful. Additionally, partnering these trivia segments with sponsors gives an additional avenue to create value and brand recognition for advertisers. With time-shifted viewing and increased avenues for distribution lowering the value proposition for advertisers, interactivity can present a new avenue for advertisers to reach consumers.
- Expert engagement: There is an opportunity for content creators to bring in experts, actors, or celebrities related to a program to participate in live chats with viewers and fans during a live broadcast. These experts can provide commentary, answer questions, or cultivate conversation either via chat in a companion app or via social media, thus further engaging viewers.
- Refreshing older content: For content that is not in its first run, or not native to TV (movies that were previously in theaters, home video before coming to TV), cultivating live viewership can be a challenge. However, interactivity like trivia, expert engagement, or social media campaigns can help drive viewers to linear broadcasts of content beyond its first run. Even something like sports, which is almost exclusively watched live, can gain significantly more viewership as a rerun if fans can win prizes or interact with players or coaches while they watch a game.
This is an excerpt from Parks Associates research library. Thanks for reading! We welcome all comments and feedback.
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