Social Networking During Your Favorite TV Show -- What If It Were Prescribed By Your Doctor?

Headline in The New York Times: "Does Loneliness Reduce the Benefits of Exercise?" Does this also apply to another form of recreation? That is, what if loneliness reduces the benefits of television?

If you're watching alone -- your "Community," your "Good Wife," your "Gossip Girl," your "Bones" -- are you really getting the full benefit of those shows?

Rats are like people -- at least, according to laboratory researchers. Rats are gregarious; they like being together. Kind of how TV viewers like being together during the Super Bowl.

This is social marketing at work -- the ability to keep people connected. But social marketing seems to be a second-rate effort next to having real people in the same room. Seems rats do better when they run together - sprouting new neurons and better brain connections than those sad and lonely rodents who jog alone.



Maybe that's how TV executives truly look at TV viewers. Animals move better and quicker in a herd mentality. Theatrical marketing executives might look at it another way -- focus on just one part of the theatergoers' bodies, or getting "butts into seats." TV executives, as we know, are always looking for "eyeballs."

TV measuring companies always talk about viewer "involvement" or "engagement." Critics say this stuff is tough to measure or that there are few common standards when it comes to research companies with different methodologies.

Multitasking is seemingly a key indicator fueling this engagement -- especially when someone texts to a friend about a commercial or TV show he or she has just seen. But what if you do not text, tweet or post on Facebook while watching TV shows? What then? Seems in this digital world there's a part of your brain that isn't working up to capacity. That's not what marketers want to hear.

Does multitasking actually have more value than devoted single-tasking? Exercise is a form of stress, point out researchers. So is social isolation, they say. Looking to rest your Twitter fingers during a key scene in "House?" Do that at your own risk.

3 comments about "Social Networking During Your Favorite TV Show -- What If It Were Prescribed By Your Doctor? ".
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  1. Andrew Ciccone from Hudson Valley Media, February 14, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.

    With internet access integrated onto many television sets today; it seems inevitable that Madison Avenue will tweet incentives integrated into commercials and perhaps the programming as well.
    When? As early as 2012!

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, February 15, 2011 at 4:09 p.m.

    Oddly enough, when I am deeply 'engaged' (whatever that really means) with a TV programme, the LAST thing I would think of doing would be tweeting or blogging etc. about it. Just maybe all this traffic during the broadcast (or delayed viewing) is not such a good thing after all.

  3. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc., February 15, 2011 at 5:29 p.m.

    Personally, I think social viewing of media is potentially huge. We've lately done some experiments with web-level (streamed video) crowdwatching of TV, film, events and sports; and other experiments using a consensual 3D immersive environment for the same purpose. And the engagement is amazing.

    We're only starting to scratch the surface of this, but for starters, the social-viewing-of-media model is itself a valuable service that I feel certain folks will pay for at need (for example, if you want to wrap a virtual SuperBowl party around a SuperBowl broadcast). Second, it provides a potential venue whereby thematic advertising or virtual experience can be dropped around broadcast in ways that don't conflict with copyright, don't need to be worked into prerolls/postrolls/siderolls etc. The connection with social media is also obvious.

    Whether the big video content licensing and other networks get this, or whether the social networks do, or whether this emerges as a stand-alone service under an ad-driven or payment-driven model, this is totally going to happen.

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