Signaling its intention to use its considerable clout to support traditional TV, Facebook, the fast growing social media giant, has made cross-promotional deals with NBC for the Summer Olympics and CNN for the 2012 presidential elections. The agreements would appear to benefit everyone involved.
Under terms of one deal, Facebook users, who have proven to drive television ratings (and save cancelled shows) with their immediate and close interpersonal contact, will be constantly reminded of and encouraged to talk about NBC’s Olympics coverage this summer in London. On the air, NBC will air a “Facebook Talk Meter” to show what Facebook users are talking about when it comes to the coverage.
“We know that a social conversation will surround the Olympics,” Gary Zenkel, the president of NBC Olympics, told the “New York Times.”
The collaboration with Facebook, he said, is part of NBC’s plan to closely listen to and interact with viewers—often in real time.
In a separate deal, CNN is teaming up with Facebook to create a social, second screen experience for this year’s elections. The partnership will attempt to connect CNN’s on-air, mobile and online audiences with Facebook’s more than 160 million U.S. users, the network said.
“Each campaign cycle brings new technologies that enhance the way that important connections between citizens and their elected representatives are made,” Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of U.S. Public Policy, told Lost Remote. “Innovations like Facebook can help transform this informational experience into a social one for the American people.”
Kaplan has some first hand experience with politics. He once served as the deputy chief of staff during the presidential administration of George W. Bush.
Facebook will report the aggregate amount of discussion surrounding each candidate and CNN will drill down on specific state-by-state analysis.
Both deals reflect the increasing importance of television connecting with social media. In the four years since the 2008 Summer Olympics, Facebook has grown from 100 million to 900 million users. In the intervening years, the New York Times reported, the idea of a “second screen” — the TV being the first, the computer or mobile phone being the second — has come of age.
It is now normal, the newspaper reported, for TV shows to encourage viewers to chat online about a program while watching it.
The phenomenon has taken off with little promotion from broadcasters. Viewers, on their own, have moved the television and web surfing closer and closer together, triggering the current response from television executives.
“Facebook has the attention of a large portion of the American audience,” particularly among younger demographics, NBC’s Zenkel told the Times. He portrayed the Facebook collaboration as a piece of “our continuing efforts to reassemble the audience” that has fragmented in countless ways over the past 20 years.
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