Twitter’s a TV ‘Force Multiplier’

NEW YORK — Laughing at a sitcom on TV, tweeting about it at the same time and hearing from other people also enjoying the show makes it funnier, and more valuable.

That’s the value proposition Twitter has for the television business, the social-media provider’s chief media scientist, Deb Roy, said at a “State of Television” session last week.

“So, you can think of Twitter as a force multiplier for television,” Roy said, summing up a 30-minute presentation that included a pitch for the upcoming Twitter Amplify service that networks will use to send TV clips (with pre-roll ads) via tweets to users’ mobile phones.

Think of that archetypal, pre-television shared visual experience of watching a sunset, he said. Describing it to someone you’re seeing it with can focus that other person’s attention on aspects of it and make it more memorable. A similar effect can happen when watching a basketball game on TV and describing it to others and hearing their responses. And if you are not watching the game, but see and hear people talking about it on Twitter, you are more likely to tune in yourself, Roy said.

Nielsen and Twitter recently found an uptick in tune-in activity to live TV related to tweets about the shows.

“Rather than broadcasting to a silent audience, I am now going to broadcast to a networked audience,” Roy said. “And that audience network finds my comedy funnier. So the value of my content just went up.”

He cited a variation on the equation force equals mass times acceleration. Force of message, he said, equals mass of medium times social acceleration.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.