Tag Archives: Internet

“Twitter Bowl”: Instant Commercial Feedback

While joining the tens (if not hundreds) of millions of Super Bowl viewers on Twitter, I noticed that I was repeatedly locked out of Twitter due to “over capacity.”  Several Facebook statuses later, I knew I was not alone…

Personally, my use of Twitter coincides with Television viewing.  Whether it be quality programing (Lost, 24, Dexter, Entourage), guilty pleasures (Jersey Shore, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, Keeping up with the Kardashins), or one-time events (New York Jets football, the World Series, the Super Bowl), I find myself tweeting with others who have no physical contact during the course of these programs.

During sporting events it’s unbiased statistics and exacerbated fandom. For entertainment dramas, comedies, and reality television it’s love verses hate.  During the Super Bowl, however, millions of “analysts” made their way to Twitter for both play-by-play and commercial-by-commercial analysis.  This virtual bottlenecking resulted in a slow, frustrating version of a normally instantaneous medium in Twitter.

During the touch-and-go process that was “Super Bowl Twitter” (ironic, considering Twitter was anything but “Super” during the secular holiday) did, however, result in instantaneous feedback for Super Bowl commercials.

Among the “trending topics” of Drew Brees and Peyton Manning were Betty White, Doritos, and ‘Googling.’  One of the highest reaching commercials on Twitter’s “trending topics” was this Vizio commercial:

Within the commercial is the further merging of our Twitter-Television relationship on display tonight.  Does Vizio play the role of soothsayer on Super Bowl night?  Potentially.  Two weeks ago, during an interview on Colin McEnroe’s WNPR radio program, I suggested that we were moving toward a meshing (if not metamorphosis) between the web and TV.  This commercial, to me encapsulates just that.

Years ago, Vizio was a cheap American alternative to the Sony’s, Toshiba’s, and Panasonic’s of the world.  This commercial, however, suggests there is nothing cheap or second-rate about this company.  As I’ve come to realize about movie trailers: a “good” trailer does not make a “good” movie.  The same can certainly be said for Vizio’s exciting Super Bowl commercial.

All things considered, it is very exciting to see the infant stages of the marriage of Internet-and-Television via Twitter and the Super Bowl and where it could potentially evolve via Vizio’s Super Bowl advertisement.

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Conan O’Brien: ‘Tonight Show’ Immune to DVR/Web

Less than an hour ago, Bill Carter of the New York Times posted a statement from Conan O’Brien on the Times’ “Media Decoder” blog.  The statement, for those who’ve avoided hearing this, refers to NBC’s late night shake-up, moving Jay Leno back to 11:35 PM, O’Brien to 12:05 AM, and Jimmy Fallon to 1:05 AM (for more on this story, please read Carter and Brian Stelter’s article, here).

In the statement, O’Brien breaks down the reason for the ratings failure that has been the Jay Leno Show which has lead to a lackluster ratings share for O’Brien’s own ‘Tonight Show:”

I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future. It was my mistaken belief that, like [Leno], I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule. Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

O’Brien continues, attempting to justify his reasoning behind refusing to leave the 11:35 PM time-slot:

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it. My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction. Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter. But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

The last part, hi-lighted in blue, raises an interesting point.  Yes.  By definition, the Tonight Show should actually air.. tonight.  But to suggest that television overrides DVR technology and the Internet is short-sighted.  Not that I’ve been checking every day (mainly because I wasn’t expecting this to happen), but when I do visit Hulu and check on the Most Popular videos of the day, the Tonight Show is always at the top of the list.

Now, does that mean that O’Brien’s wrong and the Tonight Show thrives on the web?  Not exactly.  The vague calibration of “popularity” does have a bit of a kill date as popularity per week, month, year has each episode of the Tonight Show buried by shows like The Office, Family Guy, and The Simpsons (ironically, O’Brien’s former employers).

The mobility of the web makes it more of an ally to the Tonight Show than a foe.  That same mobility, or lack thereof, handicaps DVR technology.  The Tonight Show airs at 11:35 PM, if someone DVRs the programs and watches it before heading to work in the morning, the content is still ‘fresh.’  However, if that same person doesn’t watch the program until coming home from work, most of the material has ‘expired’ (via other media, water cooler talk at work, interpersonal conversations, etc), making a DVR’d version of the program less of a reward for said viewer.

In the end, O’Brien is obviously concerned about the tradition of the Tonight Show more than anything.  His argument against DVR and Internet assistance is documented and the introduction of ‘fresh’ and ‘stale’ media content demonstrated why.  As to the future of NBC’s late night programming and current Tonight Show host, O’Brien offers the following:

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next. My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Essentially, he cannot contractually talk about any pending offers from Fox, or any other network.  It’s a messy situation for the three hosts and an obvious black-eye for NBC.  O’Brien’s comments about television daily evolution toward Internet and DVR technology sheds an interesting angle on the story.

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Mike Francesa, Marshall McLuhan, and “Hot” Sports Media

A few months ago, while listening to Mike Francesa on the YES Network, the normally sports-oriented talking head took a tangential moment to talk media evolution:

Beginning with the evolution of sports media (evening news anchors to ESPN), Francesa notes that the evening sports anchor’s power was in his knowledge of scores.  In the end, anchors on ABC/CBS (Warner Wolff, 1976-1980/1980-1995 & 1997-2004)) and NBC (Len Berman, 1982-2009), New York.  Obviously, there has been an abrupt shift in power.  As mentioned in my previous post (Wikipedia: The Ultimate Good?), the consumers became producers.  This shift first began with “SportsPhone.”

Amazingly, there’s no Wikipedia entry for “SportsPhone,” but, essentially, this service was, initially, a free service .  After providing sports fans with a desirable product, much like fantasy sports, the content provider began charging money.  According to a member of HFBoards:

“I lost my cable TV and internet service last night and had no way of getting a score for the Isles’ game. That made me think of Sportsphone, which I think was from back in the 70s. The younger people might find this hard to believe, but there was a time before cable sports channels and the internet when, if you missed the nightly TV news or it was a late game, you could not get a result until the next day. So, someone got the idea of “Sportsphone”, a number you could call which played a tape of game results.”

The author of this post, an obvious former SportsPhone user, depicts the necessity for such a service.  A breaking trade?  An extra-innings/overtime game?  A late game?  No matter the time, Sportsphone would provide a up-to-date delivery of the day’s sports news.  As novel as it seemed, dialing a combination of digits into a telephone at work or home would give one what one wanted.

Today, there’s a reflection of the same with the network television and, more-so, the Internet.  Much like local news’ relationship with network news stations, local sports anchors share the same relationship with the advent (1979) and success of ESPN.  Minus the cost, the web provides up to the second (a minute is much to slow in this day-and-age) scores for sports fans across the globe.  The question now: is there room to grow?

I surmise there is.  The aforementioned YES Network has teamed with Cablevision and Verizon (independently, not as a conglomerate) to bring “live” Yankees’ games to fans wherever there’s Internet access.  In the end, it’s fantastic to have scores and statistics to temporarily quench one’s thirst for sports, but reading about Kobe Bryant’s career defining performance and seeing it with one’s own eyes are two completely different things.

Classic “hot media” v. “cool media” take place in this statistical realm.  As Marshall McLuhan describes, “hot media” require less participation… whereas “cool media” require a bit more interaction.  When seeing an athlete, like Kobe Bryant, penetrate defensive pressure, artistically maneuver through the paint, and  finish with a “pump-handle-slam” it’s easy for the viewer to identify this performance as “career defining.”  Especially when this sequence is repeated during a performance.  As McLuhan, himself, states:

“Any hot medium allows of less participation than a cool one, as a lecture makes for less participation than a seminar, and a book for less than a dialogue” (Understanding Media, 25).

Though the Internet provides instant statistical delivery for consumers, the YES Network’s partnership with the aforementioned cable companies displays the “warming” of sports entertainment and media from “cool” to “hot.”

Though Mike Francesa didn’t read up on Understanding Media before his broadcast, his TV broadcasting partner, the YES Network, assuredly did.  In my prediction, this move– whether it be revolutionary for the time or not– will result in many television/Internet networks partnering to provide sporting fans with similar “hot” content.

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