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Why TV is no longer a one-sided affair

The relationship between television shows and their audience was once a one-sided affair, but social media has been a major disruptor to that status quo.

Who remembers the days when studios would create shows and audiences had little choice but to tune in at specific times to catch their favourite characters in action – or face the grim reality of knowing you missed out entirely!?

The alternative? Read a book or play Scrabble, pretty much.

In the past fans – hoping to engage with shows – would write letters, go to the post office, get a stamp, check that they spelt the address correctly (after finding the right studio address), mail it and then wait for the carrier pigeons to do their job (at least that’s how I think it was done. I’ll Google it later).

But with the dawn of social media, there is now more of a two-way dialogue. If anything, fans have the upper hand.

Today vast online communities of fans have a platform and voice which not only influences shows but often intimidates them!

The introduction of social media has changed the way we watch our favourite shows. Now we watch TV with our phones firmly by our side, for fear of missing out on the real-time conversation.

Shows, in turn, have acknowledged this paradigm shift with the introduction of hashtags, ostensibly to allow fans to engage about the programme online – allowing fans (and haters) to speak (and argue) in one voice.

If one needs an example of the influence fans have over what they watch from their favourite shows, then there are few better examples than the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). I know you probably have your own feelings about the spectacle that is professional wrestling, but I’m not here to wrestle with that topic but to look at a fact.

In 2015 fans let their combined voices be heard when they took to Twitter to protest the way the WWE treats its female athletes and the airtime they received in comparison with their male counterparts.

The hashtag #GiveDivasAChance was created and trended worldwide, putting the spotlight squarely upon the company to respond.

And respond it did, with an announcement of the rebranding of the women’s division. A new championship title was created, the Divas moniker was retired, and women wrestlers were referred to as superstars, like their male counterparts.

The impact that social media has is unavoidable in our lives. The time of wholly devoting our attentions to the TV screen is over.

One may argue that this illustrates how people have shorter attention spans, but I think it only shows how much information and control is now at the tips of our fingers. We, the people, have the power – not the big production companies.

It’s what we do with that information that’s important. The WWE fans took action upon seeing a women’s match lasting only 30 seconds with the #GiveDivasAChance movement – resulting in the 2018 announcement of the very first all-women pay per view aptly named Evolution.

With great power comes great responsibility.