The Night That Twitter Changed Television

thevoiceTwitter and its users took control of NBC last night in the final minutes of the network’s hit reality competition series “The Voice,” ushering in a new era of television viewer connectivity and quite likely changing the way other broadcast networks will look at their signature competition hits.

It was a big elimination night on NBC’s hottest show, but instead of relying on viewer votes from the night before to determine which two contestants would get the boot, as it always does, the show instead identified the bottom three “artists,” then turned their fates over to viewers with Twitter accounts -- a sizable group that suddenly had all the power over everyone else.

“We’re doing something that’s never been done!” “Voice” host Carson Daly declared at the top of the show. “After we announce all of your saved artists we will reveal the three singers with the lowest number of votes that are in danger of going home. Then you’ll have one last chance to save an artist using Twitter!”



Later in the show Carson said, “When I give you the signal you’ll be able to save one of those bottom three artists,” adding: “You’ll have just five minutes to tweet!”

Daly went on to explain that re-tweeting was permissible and that instant saves would be limited to one vote per artist per Twitter ID.

In a terrific boost for the social media company less than a week after its initial public offering, Daly added: “You still have time to sign up for Twitter. If you don’t have an account, go get one!”

It should come as no surprise that according to today’s Twitter TV Ratings from Nielsen, “The Voice” last night was far and away the most tweeted-about program on television. Two and a half million distinct accounts viewed at least one of the 595,000 “Voice”-related tweets generated during the hour.

During the Sprint Skybox segment -- in which Daly stands on a platform above the audience with the Sprint logo displayed behind him -- viewers saw a tweet that read, “@NBCTheVoice Signing up Mom for Twitter so she can vote. #VoiceSave tonight is hilarious and endearing! #LoveIsLove.”

Mission accomplished.

As Daly promised, in five exhilarating minutes at the very end of the show Twitter users were urged to tweet using the hashtag #VoiceSave to identify the singer they wanted to continue in the competition. The other two would suffer the painful eliminations that keep these shows moving along. Spoiler alert (for those who somehow don’t know): In the next paragraph I am going to reveal the name of the singer who was saved by the Twitterati.

The lucky recipient of the Twitter save was Kat Robichaud. Jonny Gray and Josh Logan were sent packing. I guess we’ll never know if Kat would have gone home (and which of the guys would have stayed) if the show had stuck to its usual rules. 

If I weren’t on Twitter I would say something here like: “It’s Twitter’s world. The rest of us just live in it.” But I am (@PlanetEd) so I can’t.

There is no denying that the addition of Twitter to its process brought a new energy to “The Voice,” even if it is the only big broadcast competition series at the moment that is not in need of any such assistance. And there’s no telling how viewers who aren’t on Twitter but do engage in the show’s voting process felt about being marginalized, if only for a night. Regardless, after what I saw last night on “The Voice” I can’t imagine Fox’s “American Idol” not finding ways to further incorporate social media into its voting process when it returns in January. (“Idol,” after all, was the first big broadcast show to embrace viewer interactivity in a live format when it debuted in 2002.) I wonder if ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” (with its older audience) will go there, too.

I’m happy to note that those annoying on-screen tweets that often compromise the home viewer’s enjoyment of “The Voice” and other live shows were confined to a brief segment with Daly in the Sprint Skybox, where they weren’t very annoying at all.






3 comments about "The Night That Twitter Changed Television".
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  1. Mark Silva from KITE, November 13, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

    Really Interested in seeing volume, West Coast exclusion & DVR affect, distribution & sentiment. Does anyone have real data on this?

  2. tom page from, November 13, 2013 at 7:43 p.m.

    You could tell it was a test.

    From watching the feed, the tabulation of the votes was clearly done wrong. Jonny was clearly receiving the most votes, but he has an unusual spelling of his name. There were people who spelled it Johny, some who spelled it Johnny, and some that spelled it Jony. He lost the vote because the tool that was tabulating the votes wasn’t intelligent enough to interpret the results correctly.

  3. Mike Einstein from the Brothers Einstein, November 14, 2013 at 9:33 a.m.

    All this tells me is that the audience is even more distracted than ever from the ads. Not an encouraging trend for a commercial-media business model. On a personal note, I put down my iPad six weeks ago and haven't used it since...and, lo and behold, I've read eight novels in the same six weeks.

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