Well, the tweet-peat experiment has certainly created quite a stir online! Speaking as someone who is very much interested in ‘new media’, witnessing television and social media collide like that was a disorientating, but fascinating experience.
Between FF and FB we received 33 emails worth of complaints from angry viewers upset that their screens were filled with “intrusive” twitter-tweets. Imagine how many FOX received! At first glance it would appear that the tweet-peat was a total disaster, but with more forewarning viewers might have been a little more prepared. I think a lot of the strongest complaints were from those who had no idea that their screens would be invaded by tweets, which is fair enough, I’d be upset too if I came home to find Sanford Harris in my living room.
But it wasn’t all bad, far from it – there was a lot of love and appreciation as for Team Fringe.
Anyway, below the jump are 6 things I learned from the Fringe Tweet-peat experiment:
1) Social Media and Television can dovetail, but viewers want choice.
Here’s the thing, the idea is a good one – I’d like to have a beer with whoever thought of it because their mind is on the ball. But viewers want the option to watch their favorite programmes in their own way (and increasingly, in their own time). I suggest that next time they find a way to make the on-screen tweets ‘optional’ by letting those who don’t want their viewing to be infringed to press the red button on their remote, or something. The large majority of the complaints that came through to us included the statement “I’ll stop watching if this happens again”. Yikes!
2) Fringe has three distinct viewer groups.
Just a theory, but there seem to be those who follow the show religiously and enjoy interacting with the show and fellow fans online on a regular basis, those who watch the show every week but don’t participate beyond that, and casual viewers who perhaps watch every once in a while. I suspect that a large % if the latter two groups were mightily p*ssed off last night.
3) In general, most viewers are resistant to change.
Which is strange seeing as technology and society seem to be speeding up with each passing day. But it’s true that the best change is that which is seamless, or at least publicised. Viewers respond better to differences in their scheduled viewing if they are informed – it looks like the word didn’t get around enough on this first run! I mean, you can blame people for being upset – I jokingly gave the Harris anology above, but you get the point.
4) Team Fringe are good sports.
It’s a no brainer that they’d want to promote their show, but taking the time out to interact with fans in such an open environment shows that they believe in their product and care about the show. I’m sure their tweets were moderated but you have to give them credit for braving the stream of fandom like that.
Sure, a lot of viewers were put-off, but there’s no way Fringe didn’t gain (or re-gain) a sizeable amount of viewers who will now be tuning in for the season 2 premiere on September 17th as a result of the viral effect. It’s always a fine line but I think this might just work in their favour.
6) Some useful but not too spoilery information was gleaned.
There were a few interesting tweets from the producers which caught my eye (mild spoilers):
@JPFRINGE: “Very freaky #Fringe disease coming up this season. It’s called Miyares.”
“of course the cow (GENE) will be back this year. What is #Fringe without a cow?!”
@JWFRINGE: “There will be more about Olivia’s family this season, yes.”
“The Observer WILL be back, and you will learn MUCH more about him this season.”
“Yes, there will be many more clues embedded in the show this year. Keep a CLOSE eye.”
You can view the #Fringe tweets here.
All in all, I’d say the Fringe Tweet-peats were a mixed bag, but definitely worth doing as a one-off. According to reports, FOX will look at the feedback before making plans to do any more tweet-peats (although Glee has theirs scheduled tonight). Like I said earlier in the week, I prefer this type of stuff to be on DVD extras or official podcasts, but I’m also open to new things. With a bit of tailoring, tweet-peats could be more regular and effective occurrence for repeated episodes.
Feel free to vote in the poll whether you’d like to see Tweet-peats return for Fringe:
[original image: TechCrunch]