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微博拯救电视?

2014-01-08byJeffBercovici

疯狂英语·阅读版 2013年12期
关键词:电视业主创人员麦当娜

by Jeff Bercovici

新事物的诞生总会带点悲伤色彩。随着新事物的横空出世,往往就会有旧事物黯然逝去。“推特”微博不仅改变着大家的交流方式,还对电视业造成了冲击,但在一些媒体人看来,它还是拯救“没落”电视产业的“神奇救兵”。

观众在推特上的俏皮话、批评、吐糟、发牢骚等都能影响一个节目的走向。脱口秀主持人需要普罗大众的吐糟点来制造笑点;电视编剧需要“热心”观众的互动来狠下重手,把自己的剧本改得合乎口味;演员则需要支持和反对者的善意或恶意点评,以便了解自己在屏幕上的“最佳角度”……电视需要微博,哪怕是需要负面的反馈来保持关注度——就像“麦当娜效应”那样:你可以讨厌她,诋毁她,但你就是不能忽视她。

其实,电视本身就不像电影那样“高端大气上档次”,所以主创人员一般也没有电影人的那种高傲与坚持。尽管对于创作人来说,保持相对独立与“无干扰”的创作环境是必要的,但是,在这个人人都向往话语权的时代,“特立独行”只是少数幸运儿才能享受到的礼遇。

——Mac

Its Emmys night at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, and as showtime approaches, a mosh pit of 1)blue-chip television stars 2)jostles backstage. Conan OBrien and Robin Williams, Alyson Hannigan and Jim Parsons, Jon Hamm and Sarah Silverman, all 3)spiffed-up and squeezing past each other and a few score of other celebrities in the narrow corridor between the producers station and the 4)green room. “This cant be fire safe,” grumbles Hamm, the Mad Men heartthrob, as he shoulders through the 5)throng.

Maybe not, but a team from Twitter faces a more immediate problem. They spent months negotiating with CBS and Emmy executives for access that resulted in a “Twitter Mirror” stationed just outside the green room entrance, steps from the stage. A 6)tricked-out looking glass with an iPad embedded in its surface, it lets honorees and presenters coming offstage snap and broadcast casual self-portraits—“selfies”—to the 246,000 followers of the@cbs and @primetimeemmys accounts.

Its supposed to, anyway. With 15 minutes left before the 5 p.m. Pacific start time, a full house of iPhone-toting actors and producers has overloaded the Wifi network. Andrew Adashek, the boyish 36-year-old ex-producer who manages Twitters television partnerships, speedwalks through the crowd, trying to find a solution. “Do you know a guy named Kevin? Curly hair, tattoos?” he asks one stagehand, who doesnt.

Just as its looking hopeless, one of Adasheks 8)lieutenants 9)scrounges a portable wireless hotspot. Bingo! Moments later, the Deschanel sisters—New Girl star Zooey and Bones star Emily—wander through, fresh from the red carpet. “Hey, lets take a picture in the Twitter mirror!”Zooey says.

To its 200 million-plus active users, Twitter is many things: a social network, a short-form messaging service, a news wire, a tool for self-expression—even, some believe, a force for global political change. But the company itself seems far more keen to position itself among its users—and even better, potential users—as a TV companion, an indispensable tool to keep up with, discuss and even influence the outcomes of shows and live events like sporting contests and political debates. This “second screen experience” turns TV into a participatory activity, allowing Twitter users to broadcast 10)wisecracks, critiques and theories in real-time; the networks, in turn, share the behind-the-scenes worlds of writers rooms and dressing rooms, 140 characters at a time.

“As weve grown, its become more and more clear to us that the characteristics that make up Twitter—public, real-time and conversational—make it a perfect complement to television,” says CEO Dick Costolo. “TV has always been social and conversation-driven. Its just that in the past, the reach of that conversation was limited by the number of people in a room or who you could talk to on the phone or the next day at the 11)watercooler. Broadcasters have come to understand that Twitter is a force multiplier for the media theyve created.”

In many ways, television shouldnt even be called television anymore. “Video” would prove more apt. More than a third of todays“TV” viewers watch programming on laptops, smartphones and tablets, according to Frank N. Magid Associates. And live TV? Not in an age of “on demand.” Meanwhile, Internet services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon are producing original 12)premium content that holds up against anything HBO or PBS is putting out. Netflixs House of Cards, nominated for this years Emmy Award for best dramatic series, was a game changer. “The seal has been broken,” says Larry Tanz, CEO of Vuguru, an Internet video studio owned by former Disney chief Michael Eisner.“Its the first time the fact of what network it was on doesnt matter to people.” If Netflix were a channel, the 87 minutes per day that the average subscriber spends streaming the service would make it one of the most-watched cable networks.

Twitters message to the networks is different, and it comes in well short of 140 characters: We come in peace; lets make money together.

Twitters users, unlike Facebooks, see each others posts in real time, which allows for 13)spontaneous public conversations. Those conversations frequently center around television:

In one study of users in the UK, a full 40% of tweets mentioned TV shows. In 2012, 32 million Americans tweeted about TV, according to Nielsen. When enough people are interested in talking about the same show at once, the results can be impressive.

In June, about 3 million people tuned in to Discovery, which aired acrobat Nik Wallendas tightrope walk across an Arizona gorge. As he crossed, the rate of activity on Twitter rocketed, peaking at 40,000 messages per second as the walk neared its conclusion. By the end, the event drew an audience of 13 million viewers and generated 1 million tweets.

While its impossible to attribute how many viewers tuned in after seeing it tweeted about, Discovery attributes at least some of the 14)spike to “not having to wait until tomorrow to be part of the watercooler conversation,” and even fed the fire by posting celebrity Tweets on the broadcast during Wallendas walk.

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