Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Problem with Twitter and "Live" Events (on Tape Delay)

During the TV Upfront events this week, there was lots of talk about Twitter and television viewing. Yes, it's tough to watch anything on TV these days without a Twitter hashtag on the bottom of the screen. And Twitter has been cutting partnership deals left and right it seems. From ESPN to FOX to even the NBA (I know that's not a TV network), Twitter is working hard to justify its hot valuation!

For live sporting events, like NBA games, Twitter is great for engaging in the conversion in the moment. Everyone in the country is watching the actual event at the same time.

What I find more challenging and annoying is when networks are airing a "live" event that will be shown on tape delay across the country at different times. Those of us on the West Coast usually are victims of spoilers from East Coast viewers. To be clear, this problem is not new and has long existed before Twitter came along. You could always talk on the phone with a friend in the other time zone. And then when email and texting came along, you could get spoiler alerts from your so-called friends after they just watched the show. But Twitter and promoted # hashtags exacerbate the problem.

Take the American Idol Season Finale this past Thursday night. Throughout the show #idolfinale is on-screen. If you follow this conversation and you were on the West Coast, you can see that news of Candice Glover being the winner was already hitting the Twittersphere before the show even aired on the West. (See timestamp below for 7:16pm PST)

Heck, you can even watch all the great performances, such as J Lo's, via Twitter links before it's even on FOX. (See timestamp below for 7:39pm PST)

Imagine you are on Twitter watching the show from California and tweeting to #idolfinale. How can you not help but to see that the tweets before yours already has all the buzz about who actually won?

What's the solution? Not sure...geo targeted tweets that aren't shown instantly in all time zones?

Thankfully, I don't tweet when I watch TV so I'm immune to Twitter spoiler alerts.


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