The Feed

Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Twitter makes even terrible TV great



When I was halfway through watching the glorious train wreck that was The Sound of Music Live I realized that the Twitter commentary was so much more fun than the actual show, and that's OK. In fact that's more than OK, that's what made it so fun to watch. It was No. 2 on fellow Feedster Michelle's list Friday of why we couldn't stop watching it.

The tweets were so snappy that rounded up the night's best here. Great quips like @arammer3 "The war would've ended so much sooner if we knew that the Nazis were so easily distracted by Austrian goodbye songs" kept us glued to the TV and our Twitter feed. We even joined in on our own @TimesTVFeed (#TheSoundOfMusicLive "it will be exciting to have a ship under me again" isn't the best thing to say a day after your honeymoon)

That got me thinking this can be a new revenue stream for TV producers, intentionally producing awful shows for us to tweet snark about. Y'know, like when Sharknado hit the schlocky mother lode.When you consider Nielsens ratings show that a whopping 18.5 million viewers watched The Sound of Music Live -- that's more people than watched Dancing With the Stars or the top NFL football game on Sunday. And I'm convinced that's because even for the people who hated it, having snarky tweets along for the ride made it must-see television.

I've already noticed a change in my viewing habits. I'm a long-time fan of TiVo. In fact my household had the very first generation of TiVo when it came out 15 years ago and I was like an evangelist to all my mom friends preaching about how TiVo improved my life. I no longer watched commercials. I watched what I wanted when I wanted, even if it was during a 2 a.m. feeding for the baby.

But this marriage of Twitter and TV actually gets me to watch live TV again. For shows like Scandal, I need to watch an episode before I dare look at my phone and see spoilers like "OMG can't believe Mama Pope chewed through her own wrists!" I started by watching it a half hour later so I could still speed through commercials, but then I realized the Twitter commentary only added to the show for me. So now I watch it live or as close to live as I can stand.

When Downton Abbey returns to PBS in January you can bet I'll be watching it while glued to comedian Patton Oswald's Downton tweets (@pattonoswalt: I want to see The Dowager Countess & O'Brien in a Withering Stare Cage Match. #DowntonPBS)

What are your favorite shows to follow along on Twitter simultaneously? And do you think we'll be seeing more terrible shows put up as Twitter bait?

[Last modified: Friday, December 6, 2013 5:45pm]

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