A TV show should feature 15 social media talking points, says Viacom senior VP

TV shows should have between 10 and 15 social media talking points baked into them to guarantee a successful social TV experience, according to senior VP of Viacom International Media networks Phillip Bourchier O’Ferrall.

Speaking at Westminster Media Forum’s TV Convergence Keynote seminar in London this morning, Bourchier O’Ferrall said it has learned that for TV shows to sustain high social media engagement levels they must embed content that triggers social conversations.

“Gone are the days of just doing one long episode by itself. To sustain it you need to have 10 to 15 moments during the episode that create social media conversations,” he said.

Viacom, home to MTV, Nickelodeon, and shows including Spongebob Squarepants and Geordie Shore, has coined a new term to encapsulate the new type of storytelling necessary for engaging multiplatform and social TV audiences, according to Bourchier O’Ferrall.

“The term we now use is Living Media. Content must be constantly updated and engaging. Multi-screening is becoming more common place and that digital water cooler moment must be created. We need to be listening to the conversations to help drive our programming.

“Our core audience is the MTV audience which is 16 to 24 year olds. Every item of content and each brand that we have – whether it’s a soft toy product or a theatrical release – there has to have social media engagement around it. That has created a new ad model, too, which is very important to us,” he said.

New, interactive and engaging advertising opportunities can be wrapped around these experiences via second screens, he added.

Another term that has arisen from younger demographics that engage with social TV is “FOMO”, or “fear of missing out”, according to Bourchier O’Ferrall.

A common feeling among young people that have missed a live broadcast and had to watch a programme on catch-up is that they have missed out and are therefore "not cool anymore", having not been a part of the conversations on social networks around it, he said.

Research and analysis is also fundamental to understanding how best to shape future content to ensure it has social media appeal, according to Bourchier O’Ferrall.

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