There is almost certainly some subset of fans of Comedy Central’s @midnight with Chris Hardwick who downloaded Periscope last week.
Why? Last Friday, during the first night of SXSW Interactive in Austin, @midnight became the first-ever late night series to broadcast a full episode exclusively on the Twitter-owned livestreaming platform.
The show has developed a loyal following largely because of the charismatic Hardwick and because of how much it integrates and comments on social media. For all of viral videos that Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and James Corden spawn on a weekly basis, social is not nearly as engrained in those shows’ fabric as it is in @midnight’s, where a rotating cast of comedians battle nightly in the setting of a fake game show to take on the most absurd of social and pop culture news.
Periscope, then, was the perfect platform with which to attempt a special live episode. But, of course, with anything that’s truly live (and not on delay), there is opportunity for the unexpected. “The live element was part of the fun – as you said, when it’s live, anything can happen,” Comedy Central CMO Walter Levitt told found Remote. “There were definitely a few unexpected moments during the show and they all contributed to the fun and excitement.”
In addition to building in for the unexpected, Comedy Central understood that they would not be able to fall back on the standard linear and digital metrics to determine whether the show was a success.
Despite not going into the show with a hard and fast set of key performance indicators, Comedy Central thought the idea paid off.
“[A[ll the indications were that it was a huge success: we had a line down 6th street in Austin, with hundreds of SXSW attendees trying to get into the taping; social engagement before and during the live episode was very strong; and ultimately, almost 100,000 people watched the stream on Periscope,” said Levitt. “We are very happy with this innovative initiative and are hoping to do it again in the future.”