First screen first: Big event TV and social media


Taylor Swift won entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS.
(Credit: ACM on Facebook)

In a world of limitless choice, the appetite for big event television continues to grow. And as exciting and pervasive as social media chatter about television has become, it simply reflects — and often magnifies — the enduring power of what happens on the first screen.

For example, with more than 13 million viewers, the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS delivered a 4 percent increase over last year’s ratings. That’s the result of a vibrant country music community looking to connect with their favorite artists and each other during the live broadcast.

Together with the ACMs, CBS helped empower the conversation between this fervent group of fans offering a dedicated Social Media Reporter (2 Broke Girls co-star Beth Behrs) and extensive online and on-air social integrations before and during the broadcast. The result? According to Blue Fin Labs, social media mentions around this year’s show hit an all-time high and were up more than 330 percent from last year. A win on the first screen and the second screen.

The following night, ratings for the NCAA Championship on CBS were up 5 percent from 2011 with an average of 21 million viewers during the broadcast. And notably, the championship game generated nearly 1.5 million social media comments, which was seven times the number of comments made about the average March Madness game.


The Kentucky Wildcats are national champions. Final score: (1) Kentucky 67, (2) Kansas 59
(Credit: US Presswire/CBS Sports on Facebook)

These results come on the heels of strong ratings increases for the 2012 Super Bowl, Oscars, and Grammys broadcasts, each of which also delivered record social media activity as well. While it’s unclear exactly how social media affects TV, it’s very clear how TV affects social media: be it sports, news, primetime programming, or award shows, it’s the shared love of network TV content that inspires people to express themselves and connect with others on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

As TV marketers, we love the new level of engagement provided by social platforms. But we also remain focused — first and foremost — on creating the big event magic on the first screen. Because without the first screen, there is no second screen!

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