Creative Commons

2008-10-10 12:59:31

Keeping Your Audience Involved

How involved do you get your audience? That's a question on the mind of every TV executive. They know they need to get you involved while you're watching the show. In order to keep their audience, they need to make us care about the characters so that we will care when things happen to them. But what happens when the 30 or 60 minutes is over? Our suspension of disbelief is... suspended. We turn the channel to watch the next show and immediately forget about what we just watched. So I guess the bigger question for TV execs is, "How do you _keep_ your audience involved?"
In reality, this never happens. Each TV show has it's own website, but what is really there? Bios? Pictures? A store? Junk. The normal television show website is total junk, put there only because someone in marketing said, "you have to make a site." Enter the user-created forums. Any die hard fan of any show knows exactly where to go to talk to others who share the same level of excitement about the show. Lost has it's major forum, Alias had it's major forum, every big show has a fan base that takes it upon themselves to keep the excitement going between episodes. But that only goes so far.
A fan site is just that, a site by fans. You won't find vetted insights into new characters or new plot lines. Once in a while you'll get an "oracle" who has some sort of tie to people writing or producing the show giving out little nuggets of information in order to cause a frenzy. Other than that, these fan sites are only as good as the fans using it, and that usually means they're pretty crappy.
There is, however, one show that has answered the question, "How do we keep our audience involved?" That show is The Big Bang Theory. The plot, according to IMDB:
A woman who moves into an apartment next door to two brilliant but socially awkward physicists shows them how little they know about life outside of the laboratory.
And the fun doesn't stop there. The physicists, Leonard and Sheldon, have friends, Howard, Rajesh, and Leslie to name a few. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues. But I digress... This show has managed to keep the excitement going between episodes.
In the most recent episode, s02e03, Sheldon mentioned that he Twitter'd something. Knowing that during the first season when a video was mentioned to be on YouTube and ACTUALLY WAS, I figured that Sheldon might ACTUALLY have a Twitter account. Low and behold, he did. And soon after Leslie followed; then Howard, and Raj, and Leonard, and Penny. Every main member of the cast was on Twitter within a day after that episode aired. But what do they Tweet about?
You might think that when I say, "Sheldon has a Twitter account," I mean that the actor who plays Sheldon has a Twitter account. No. The _character_ from the show has a Twitter account. What does he Tweet about? Well, sometimes he is gluing Leslie's stapler to her desk, sometimes he is on the receiving end of an upside down projector the day of a lecture, and sometimes he is cringing at the naughty things Howard says. It's as if the television episode never ended. We get to be a part of their world all through the week; seeing them argue or decide what costume to wear for Halloween. Then, when the next Monday rolls around, we haven't forgotten about the characters, or the show, or how much we love watching the show. They have found a way to keep their audience involved.
So, if you use Twitter and like watching The Big Bang Theory, you should definitely follow @sheldoncooper, @leonardhofstadt, @pennyin4B, @lesliewinkle, @wolowizard, and @TheRaj.



2008-10-10 14:46:11

Matt Simmons says...
One of the reasons I'm so fascinated with The Office is that it manages to meld TV and real life so well. Aside from several characters having blogs that are updated by the actors and actresses playing the roles, maybe half of the characters on the show actually have the same first names of their actors, and one character (Creed) is actually based on the actor playing the role, in terms of name and history.

2008-10-12 12:03:09

slonkak says...
I didn't know that about the Office. Well, I knew about the names, but not the blogs. I'll have to check those out.

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