From Tube to Tablet: Social Media and the Platinum Age of Television

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By: 321

January 8, 2016

This past Monday night a friend of mine invited me to her house to watch the premier of “The Bachelor” Season 20, to which I hesitantly accepted despite the fact that I knew I would be cringing continuously for the next two hours. During a commercial break she made the comment “I only use Twitter when the Bachelor starts up again” as she redownloaded the app. It reminded me of years ago when I also used the social media tool to follow comments, opinions, and spoilers from fans, comedic accounts, and the cast themselves. Something about engaging in that dialogue and watching it unfold as the episodes played out almost made it better than the show itself. And I’ll admit my favorite part of watching “The Bachelor” for the first time in years was getting to read the hilarious “Best Bachelor Recap You’ve Ever Read” the next day by female-centric blog Betches Love This.

This kind of engagement across social media networks and between everyone from fans to scriptwriters and even to actors is also common with dramas such as “Scandal” and “Pretty Little Liars.” Although the term “Platinum Age of Television” has not officially been defined as the official new generation of television, many critics have pegged the term to refer to the abundance of scripted shows that are, well, just better than shows ever have been. The opportunity for a social connection helps make this possible as it deepens the relationship between the program and its audience. For the cast, it almost has the effect of live theater again, as for the first time they can see that immediate reaction to their performance and engage with their fans. For producers and writers, the hundreds of thousands of reactions to every episode of a hit show can alter the show itself as it is much easier to determine what works and what doesn’t. They can also use this medium to spark interest in their off-season. I follow the official “American Horror Story” Instagram account, which really only sparks my attention when they share teasers for a new season.

The “Platinum Age of Television” isn’t just reserved for the tube either. It has been argued that Snapchat is a new form of TV, especially with the emergence of Live Stories that are viewed globally on the same day about diverse subjects and spotlighting diverse audiences. Similarly, Vine allows creators and viewers to engage in constant creative conversation and has led to mind-blowing visual breakthroughs that were not expected upon launch of the app 3 years ago. It’s hard to determine what the future of TV will look like. While Internet streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBOGo keep people watching different things at different times, the cultural conversation over social media is perhaps a primary reason why viewers are still willing to watch a show in real-time. In my opinion, the opportunity for engagement has created a cultural unity that is mutually beneficial for fans, producers, cast, and marketers who can more easily track the impact of shows and commercials.

Truthfully, I didn’t hate watching “The Bachelor” as much as I would like to admit but I also didn’t hesitate to look up all the spoilers so I wouldn’t be tempted to tune in next week…but I might anyways.

For a full breakdown of the new age of Television and social media’s role in it check out this New York Times article by Farhad Manjoo. At 321 we recognize the value of video streaming on social media and successfully integrate it into many of our campaigns and strategies. If you are interested in creating an engaging video for your business or would like to share your ideas with us, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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