Conan, ESPN, MTV and the Power of Social TV

May 30, 2012

espn, mtv, conan, social tv


Conan. ESPN. MTV.  They are three of the major media moguls across the entertainment spectrum.  They are three of the biggest influencers, movers and shakers in the sports, music, and entertainment media markets — (not coincidentally three of the most coveted markets for brands and advertisers.) They are the sources of opinions, highlights and analysis for millions of people across the globe.

They also combine to have almost 15 million Twitter followers, over 270 million YouTube views and over 40 million ‘Likes’ on Facebook.  Conan makes up over 5 million of those Twitter followers, ESPN accounts for 209 million of those of YouTube views and MTV is responsible for 34 million of those likes.  

Three different companies embracing different aspects of the social media universe as innovative gateways to reach their respective audiences.  

The other thing that ESPN, CONAN, and MTV have in common? They believe the first paragraph of this blog is directly related to the second.  

In the past month, each brand has demonstrated their continued dedication in pushing their content through alternative formats.  

In a candid interview with Piers Morgan at The Cable Show 2012, Conan O’Brien went so far as to say that two years ago when his franchise launched on TBS they faced the following ultimatum.

“Adapt or die.”

The staff over at Team Coco understands that the landscape of late night television has evolved.   People will watch content whenever they want; wherever they want to and it’s about providing that content across as many channels as possible.

“The days of 'I only want people to experience me (Conan) at 11 on TBS' are over. The audience is too fragmented, too distracted, and it doesn’t work that way anymore.”

The old model was to drive people to their couch at 11 pm to watch a talk show host interview celebrities for an hour.  The responsibility of the current (and evolving) model requires the publisher to drive people to their mobile phones, ipads, tvs, dvrs, laptops, at time of the day — even if its just to watch one single clip.

“The more you can do of this, the more you can create a world where some people experience the show at 11 that night while others watch it later on the DVR and others see pieces of it on some site they like. Eventually they say: “You know what? It’s 11 o’clock and I think I’ll check out Conan.”

Another brand that is embracing the power of social TV is none other than the 800 pound gorilla of the sports world, ESPN.  

Its new deal with Twitter involves fans tweeting at the ESPN account a picture of their ‘gameface’ that will then be promoted by an advertiser with the hash tag #gameface.  At the end of each game, ‘NBA Tonight’ will feature the best ‘gamefaces,’ with the winner receiving a tour of the ESPN headquarters.

Social TV blog, Lost Remote, explains what’s unique about this deal.

 "Advertisers will be able to buy into both ESPN’s properties and the Twitter components in a single integrated buy: the first time Twitter has cut such a deal with a network around major events."

So Brand A buys advertising on Twitter, which gives them access to Twitter’s promoted tweets platform along with ESPN’s full promotional push around the event or game. 

ESPN clearly believes in the growing influence of the ‘second screen’ and is leveraging that influence to attract advertisers on Twitter.  

Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN Global Customer Marketing and Sales explains:

“We know fans use ESPN and Twitter as their main source for content and connectivity. By taking that scale and combining it with the passion of sports fans, this program answers the value equation of social media while providing a new way for fans to engage with ESPN.”

MTV is also ratcheting up their social TV experience around its annual Movie Awards, which will take votes via Twitter for the first time.  

The digital strategy, which MTV is calling ‘storytelling without borders,’ aims to connect the audience to the lead-up to the event, the actual event, and what happens after the event when - as MTV’s VP of Digital Colin Helms explains - “content turns to currency that viewers share.” 

MTV believes that while it’s cool to engage its audience during the live event, getting their followers to continue the discussion after the curtain closes is really the ultimate goal.  After the awards are over, they want their audience to remain connected and share their experiences ‘beyond the linear broadcast.’