Twitter wants to be your TV. Sure, we know Twitter doesn’t broadcast events — yet — and so on its way into warming up the internet boob tubes, Twitter is partnering with current television shows to bombard you with on screen commentary from Twitter users. I find the whole process messy, embarrassing and annoying.
There’s nothing worse than watching a news broadcast or a live dramatic show on television and then having a big blue box pop up on screen with some illegible/unintelligible Twitter username spouting some incoherent — and often incomprehensibly spelled — “live” Tweet from someone in Upper Podunk or Lower Dinkdank. Reading those live Twitter messages makes it clear we have a long way to go in the USA with educating our citizenry on the benefits of reading and writing.
The water cooler used to be the place where people gathered to talk about TV. Now, 95% of the public social conversation around TV happens on Twitter.
I don’t know why Twitter, or the TV networks, allow that sort of messy, bald, intrusion into the sanctity of our homes. I really don’t care what some random Twitter user has to say, but if I did care, I’d fire up a Twitter client and go reading on my own without any TV facilitation.
Twitter, of course, disagrees:
How the world experiences TV has fundamentally changed. We no longer watch TV as a silent participant, rather as an active voice, sharing the experience as events unfold with people across the globe. Last year, 32 million people in the U.S. tweeted about TV programming: big events, like the Super Bowl (24 million Tweets) or their favorite weekly series, like American Idol (5.8 million Tweets during 2012). People tweet so much about TV that Twitter is becoming a fundamental part of how TV is measured.
With this shift in our sights, we’re announcing the availability of TV ad targeting on Twitter.
I realize Twitter is desperate to sell Ads and make money for their Wall Street Overlords, but to that explanation, I reply: “Some people don’t need to be heard. Quiet can have great significance and meaning in a loud world.”
Have you seen the “socially enhanced” episodic television shows? They used to be relegated to “special repeats” where the Tweets are added to the rerun of the show, but now, those Tweets are being force-fed to us in real time, during the first run of the show, and it’s just plain embarrassing — but I don’t think Twitter cares, because they desperately need that screen time to try to mine significance.
Unfortunately, for Twitter, and other social media messengers, their blue-blocking of our TV screens appears to be failing:
Only 16.1 percent of the survey respondents said they had used social media while watching TV during prime time. And less than half of the people using social media were actually discussing the show they were watching.
Facebook was by far the most popular social network for people chatting during shows, used by about 11.4 percent of TV watchers, compared with 3.3 percent for Twitter.
The research findings contradict the notion — peddled heavily by Twitter and Facebook in their pitches to producers — that conversations on Twitter and Facebook are a big factor driving people to tune into TV shows.
It doesn’t get more blunt for the bluebird than this from NBCUniversal:
NBCU had expected social media to have a dominating effect on viewership for the Games. However, during the 18-day period of coverage, just 19 per cent of Olympic viewers posted about the games on social media, the broadcaster found. Mr Wurtzel said that a show’s ratings are more likely to drive activity on social media rather than vice versa.
“A lot of people want to show that they are on the cutting edge. One of the things that is on the cutting edge is social media,” Mr Wurtzel said. “Why wouldn’t I want to say to you, ‘We have a potent new way in which we can drive ratings?’
But “it just isn’t true”, he added. “I am saying the emperor wears no clothes. It is what it is. These are the numbers.”
The NBCU experience reflects mine. A big blue blob on my screen blocks my enjoyment of what I’m watching and creates tension and resentment. Twitter itself doesn’t push me to the TV and the reverse is also true — so trying to fornicate multiple advertising conversions that nobody but Twitter really wants procreating makes for an interrupted and abortive experience.
In fact, when I see the “live” Tweets start showing up on my screen, I cringe a little because I know the next new thing is going to put me straight under — the newscaster or announcer will READ ALOUD the awful on-screen Tweet, trying, and always failing, to not mangle the unpronounceable username and misspelled Tweet. It’s just the most awful experience. Not only can we not visually ignore the Tweet, we have to also tune down our ears in order to not hear it given a second, more wretched, voiced, life. Changing the channel is the only real escape.
I understand Twitter wants eyes — and more than that, clicks — but there has to be some reasonable way to let Twitter live without killing our TV viewing enjoyment!