Resocializing Broadcast Television

tvcirkeln

Last week marked the premiere of the second season of TV-cirkeln. This year we’re talking about the first season of the HBO show Girls, which we air directly after, making TV-cirkeln what I assume to be the only official Girls aftershow in the world. Our first episode was a ratings success at 111.000 viewers at 11 PM on SVT2, which is the artsier out of the public service networks in Sweden.

My new colleagues Linnea Wikblad and Nour El Refai are very, very smart and very, very funny. In tonight’s episode the abundance of bodily fluids inspired some autobiographical talk about menstrual blood that may raise eyebrows even in this country – although I kind of hope it doesn’t. Because wouldn’t you rather live in a world which did not treat a completely natural and temporally big part of the majority population’s life as something shameful? Not saying we should talk about it everywhere, nor all the time, but I do think once every decade or so, on late-night television, should be able pass without comment.

A few weeks back I had the pleasure of talking about trends in contemporary television at TV Drama Vision at the Gothenburg International Film Festival. I spoke about the parallel trends of increasing individualization and resocialization of viewing. I observed that multiplatform and transmedia storytelling (although typically consumed in a non-linear fashion) actually drives linear viewing on the broadcast television platform. Simply because transmedia often uses the broadcast specifically to anchor progress in narrative time, and because much participant interaction around audiovisual media relies on the viewers all having reached the same point in the story at hand.

Since social media audiences already and increasingly consume event television – like the upcoming Oscars – on multiple screens, one thing broadcasters can do raise interest in scheduled drama is to transform broadcasts into live viewing events, like they used to be before reruns, VCRs and so on. An affordable way of achieving this is to lure in the already existing online conversation, in other words reconquering the second and third screens. This is what TV-cirkeln does, and the attraction of the conversation is so strong that even viewers who have already paid premium for the same show, or downloaded it illegally, quite like to return for a second round with a community attached.

This sounds way manipulative, but really, for us at Rundfunk, it’s just the way we were loving and watching television anyway. Then we had the opportunity of turning it into a job. The joy!

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