Tag Archives: ABC

Cougar Town Explores Social Engagement During Hiatus: #Win

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm

Since Cougar Town went on hiatus two months ago, Creator/Executive Producer Bill Lawrence has been hitting the Internet. Hard.

While it looks like he is genuinely enjoying the engagement with fans, I’ve been wondering if it was all a final push to get viewership up for the show’s return on April 18. Turns out, it is. And I think that’s brilliant.

It begun innocently enough with @VDOOZER and @kbiegel tagged on the title screen of CT’s last episode with an invitation to stay in touch. I immediately accepted, and found out we’d be treated to some hiatus fun with Cougar Town: Writers Vs. Actors mini videos on Vulture.

I’m a sucker for behind the scenes stuff anyways, and these weekly clips were awesome – hilarious, a perfect length, and featured cast, crew, and writers. The best part was that Bill and Kevin owned it from the beginning.

Then last week, Bill announced his takeover of the Scrubs Facebook page. It was then I realized two things:

  1. This is a Cougar Town viewership mission, and I love the strategy.
  2. I’m going to cry if it doesn’t work.

I’ve never seen a television producer go to such lengths to engage fans. Yeah, we can assume Bill’s motive is to bump viewership, but if you look at the way he talks to people on Twitter and watch the homegrown videos he’s recently posted on Facebook, one thing is blatantly clear: He loves what he’s doing – and he believes in it. And damn it, that’s why I have such an enormous man-crush on him.

Regardless of what happens with Cougar Town, I think this is a great strategy. Fans love talking to the stars and producers of their favorite shows. Social media lets the actors and creators listen and engage on a  level that is totally unprecedented. This is incredibly powerful, and if applied to TV shows, could be a serious tool for bumping viewership – but it has to be done in the right way. This mission would have been radically different if an intern was posting all the content. They aren’t – I checked:


Success lies in truth. Bill standing there in Christa’s bathroom recording himself in the mirror is REAL. Hell, I’ve taken pictures of myself that way. He’s managed to break the barriers of fame and show himself as someone accessible to you and me. Seriously, isn’t that AWESOME? I really think this type of engagement strategy could revolutionize the way we experience entertainment.

As Hill Holliday’s Mike Proulx said, “TV is not dying. It is changing and getting better.”

In the end, I only want to know one thing: Who’s idea was it? Bill’s? Kevin’s? ABC’s?? (god I hope it wasn’t ABC).

Does anyone have other examples of how TV producers/creators are personally engaging fans through social media? I’d love to find some more examples like this!

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm: Talk about an epic end to #failweek. Slightly embarrassed.


Oscars 2011: Break Out the Third Screen!

I enjoyed the Oscars from a three screen experience: HDTV, laptop, and iPad with the ABC Backstage Pass App, which cost me a buck. At one point I whipped out my cell phone to update Facebook – just so I could have a four screen experience. Yeah, I’m a bit of a dork. Anyways.

I loved the social experience that was the 2011 Oscars. As one Tweep put it, “I’m watching Twitter watch the Oscars!” which was really the epitome – well, that plus the fact that James Franco tweeted video of him walking on to the stage for the first time, and continued to upload pics and vids to Twitter throughout the night. I followed him on Twitter immediately, and then watched his number of followers jump by the second. Cool.

The Backstage Pass app was impressive, aside from the super obvious lack of Twitter. That bothered me. I mean, why wouldn’t they integrate it? Too hard? (I don’t think so…) Did they want to stay focused? (Maybe, but people using the app are also probably going to be tweeting.) Wouldn’t it be great promotion if they pre-included each tweet with an ABC hashtag or something? (Did they just not care?)

Image courtesy of LostRemote.com


The level of control within the app was fabulous. I could touch any cam, and immediately see what they were shooting. The raw feeling (fast zooms, focus corrections, pointing at the floor while moving for the next shot) really appealed to me. Maybe because my background is in video production and I love seeing behind the scenes stuff, but it just felt HONEST!

When I watch TV, there’s always a surreal feel to it, like it’s not actually happening. It’s been edited and corrected and soundtracked – but this had none of that. I kept seeing the camera man’s hand as he adjusted the lens and that made me feel like I was part of the fun.

It all comes down to the level of human connection I felt during the experience. At one point I was surfing through camera angles and caught Natalie Portman talking to someone. She wasn’t posing for pictures or being interviewed… she was just chillin’. Aside from the fact that I adore her, watching her across the entire United States smiling and laughing before the big show made a grin break out on my face.

And that’s the power of social engagement in mainstream media. It connects us to the worlds we escape to and allows us to view our favorite movie stars not just as beautiful faces on the screen, but as real, human people! That’s my absolute favorite part.