Twitter And TV: Not a Good Mix

Apparently there is enough of a correlation between tweets about TV shows and actually watching those shows for Twitter to fork over about $80 million for Bluefin Labs, which tracks and analyzes TV-related tweets. The assumption being -- like all else in the known world -- this too will lead to better advertising. After all, there were 24.1 million tweets sent about some aspect of the Super Bowl, and Oreo's agency got big props for jumping on the blackout with tweets to the effect that you could "still eat Oreos in the dark." (If only the calories were halved by the gloom.)

As chance would have it, I was actually monitoring tweets during the Super Bowl. I contributed two brilliant observations -- one about how moronic Phil Simms' commentary was, and another about how good “Downton Abbey” was (which, like the rest of the known world, I taped and watched after that final uncalled hold in the end zone.) The relatively few I follow on Twitter are literate and sharp-witted, so I was highly entertained by their comments, especially about the blackout. But once play resumed, I found checking the newest tweets annoyingly time-consuming, so waited until those expensive ad pods to catch up. Kind of ironic, since the advertisers were hoping that I would pay enough attention to their ads to tweet something about them (which, perhaps mercifully, I didn't).



As Twitter congratulates itself for the BlueFin acquisition, let me make a few observations about tweeting during TV -- based largely, of course, on my own habits and experiences, which automatically validates my POV and makes it projectable. Kind of like a lot of survey work you see out there.

I hardly ever watch live TV if I can avoid it. I even tape the nightly news. Why? Too many commercials. When I fast-forward through the ad pods in prime-time network shows, I am stunned by the length and number of spots and assume that anyone watching live has put a gun to their heads after the fourth or fifth ad. 

It seems to me the networks are doing everything possible to drive away live viewers, who now have a ton of digital programming alternatives such as commercial-free cable and the excellent Netflix "House of Cards." So I have NO incentive to "check in" or tweet during the actual time of broadcast. The Super Bowl was a first, probably a last -- and absent the blackout might not have happened at all.  

My wife likes to surround herself with pals when watching TV, I presume so they can discuss the show's trajectory and speculate on as-yet unrevealed plot twists and turns. When you are younger, this is usually a function of unavoidably having roommates or friends who drop by to see if you scored any hash today. But why at her age? Personally, I don't want another soul within five miles of me when I watch TV -- generally because they choose the worst possible moment to ask a question or try to speculate on what will happen next, both of which to me are grounds for justifiable homicide. Why then would I want to electronically "share" my experience with others?  It requires attention I would rather put toward actually watching the show -- and frankly, I don't care if others think the Earl of Grantham contributed to Sybil's death or not.

If I want to be annoyed by others, I will go to the movies, but TV time is my time and no one else's, including Twitter.

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