RSW ’14: Real-time reality still short on ratings

Social media is an essential component in some unscripted shows, but it is still unclear whether it is translating into high ratings, panelists on Realscreen West's "Real-Time Reality" session (pictured) told delegates.
June 5, 2014

Social media is both a marketing tool and essential component in some unscripted live shows, but it’s still unclear whether it’s translating into high ratings, panelists on Realscreen West’s “Real-Time Reality” session told attendees.

Shira Lazar (pictured, left), host of YouTube show What’s Trending, moderated the panel, which featured Eli Holzman (pictured, right), president of All3Media America; Brant Pinvidic, president of Eyeworks USA; Jesse Redniss, chief strategy officer of social marketing platform Spredfast; and Alon Shtruzman (pictured, center), CEO of Keshet International.

Shtruzman spoke extensively on Keshet’s Rising Star format, which allows viewers to vote on mobile apps and decide in real-time whether or not a contestant will proceed through the talent competition. The exec says there is nothing new about real-time since live television and voting have been mainstays in the landscape for some time, but what’s changed is how networks integrate these elements.

“The challenge for us is not to just do it live, but to find a narrative, the right arc and story,” he said. “The power of Rising Star is the screen – the moment when live voting translates into actual drama. It’s all about finding the right engagement.”

However, Shtruzman says execs should be wary of imposing social media just for the sake of using it. Instead, it should be used for a specific purpose, and producers need to be on top of what’s trending.

“It’s very dangerous to impose social media,” he said. “We should treat those amazing widgets and gadgets as a way to enhance, and we should always find the right organic story.

“From our perspective, it’s about the integration,” he added. “Making sure it’s cohesive and well amalgamated.”

Meanwhile, Pinvidic argued that it has been difficult for Eyeworks to gauge the ratings success of a show based on its mark of social media. The exec points to series which have exploded on Twitter and Facebook upon premiering, but resulted in poor ratings.

“There’s no direct correlation between what’s happening out there and the ratings,” he said. “No matter what happens in social media, it all comes down to checking ratings at 6:15 a.m. It is only about that number. I think at one point, the industry will look at both social interaction and ratings.”

Redniss quickly noted: “You’re looking at breaking down a 90-year tyranny when talking about breaking down the ratings.”

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