Networks want viewers to watch television programs live (with commercials and all), and social media – particularly Twitter – offers some interesting opportunities to keep audiences engaged. CBS’ Hawaii Five-O is giving viewers a big incentive to live-tweet during the show’s next episode. According to Deadline, on Monday night the show will become the “first primetime drama to allow viewers to choose the ending of an episode in real time.”
Many Americans are viewing on DVR or other, non-live methods of catching their favorite television shows. But sharing on social networks has helped inspire viewers to view in realtime, so they can chat and share with their friends as the action unfolds onscreen.
For this campaign, CBS filmed three different endings for the Hawaii Five-O episode, with each one revealing a different killer. While the show is airing, viewers are encouraged to tweet or visit the CBS website to vote and choose which character is guilty. The ending that wins will be aired as the closing of that episode; and depending on how the live voting turns out, the East Coast could see a different ending than the West Coast.
CBS is touting the experiment as a “television first,” and while it does seem like the perfect way to encourage viewers to watch live and engage on social media, GigaOm notes just one problem: the show needs a fairly tech-savvy audience to participate. According to AdWeek, the average Hawaii Five-O viewer is 55 years old. While many 55 year-olds are online and active, how many of them are tweeting?
Despite this potential gap between campaign style and target audience, CBS is taking social TV to a new level by giving the audience power to shape the plot. Will this type of ‘live’ social experiment become the norm as shows struggle to bring in a live audience – and look to social media for the solution?