Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Twittervision

Why Twitter is the new TV remote control

If you listened to Bill Simmons' discussion with Mark Cuban at this year's Sloan Conference, you will understand that Cuban is a big proponent of community-driven events. By community, in this sense, I mean the people with whom you share the event experience with as it is happening live. I'll relate all this to sports, the premier event-industry, but the same principles can be applied to anything else happening live: the Academy Awards, American Idol or a political debate.

Whether you're a fan at a game cheering along with complete strangers, a student watching the gamecast of an MLB game over the shoulder of the kid in front of you, or you are chilling on your couch with the game on the big screen and a live Twitter stream in your hand; all forms of keeping tabs on a game are communal. This is why I have a big peeve about some people's insistence on recording a live game to watch later. I understand that people are busy, like to skip commercials and want the same entertainment value spoiler free, but there is something inherently wrong about this to me. The interaction with Twitter, texting friends while the game is going on, and the overall sense that everybody is watching is lost when a game is taken in after the fact. This is the same reason that while I have decided to be a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I still lack any emotional attachment to the team because it is so difficult to wake up early and take in a game and I have no one to share it with.

My parents often tell me that they are going to get rid of cable. "It's $80 per month! Everything we watch on TV is available on Netflix," they say. To which I reply, "What about sports?" Ah yes, the convenience of subscribing to the MLB online game plan, grabbing a laptop, selecting a game and waiting for it to buffer before hopefully catching the important part... way easier than pressing "665" on the remote and seeing the bases loaded with nobody out in the bottom of the 9th. My point is that live sports are the driving force to keeping TV live. I suggest reading Cuban's blog post on how the TV business is getting stronger (and the misconception that online video is killing traditional TV).

Now to the point of this blog post: the Twittervision revelation. Remember the days before all TV's had to be attached to boxes? You know, where you had the cable that could directly plug into the back of your TV and actually used the remote that your TV came with? I mean, it was only a couple years ago... I could go through every channel in a matter of minutes to see what was on. Press "channel up" and boom, next channel. None of this guide stuff, none of this digital buffering. Just straight up flying through the channels. Then the cable company decided to "convenience" us with the cable box. Sure, it's great to be able to search through 1,000 channels in the matter of 25 minutes, but with all that information, how can we figure out what to watch!? Let's see, do I want to watch Pawn Stars, Hardcore Pawn or Pawn Queens?? Here's where the Twitter machine comes in. Twitter offers the answer to the age old question, "What's on tonight?" If your Twitter following is properly catered to your personal interests, one scan of the timeline is all the information you need. If your favorite baseball team is getting crushed but you see that MLB Network is showing a slugfest, you pop on over to MLB Network to catch the thrill. If Jeremy Lin is throwing down, again, and you're sick of watching Point Break for the 15th time (but we all know, it is impossible to get sick of Point Break), voila! Twitter tells you to switch over. But there are always dead nights on the Twitter. This usually happens on a Tuesday, because we all know, Tuesday nights suck. Fear not, a dead Twitter means you are in the clear to watch your favorite reruns of The Hills, and you won't be subjected to the scrutiny to missing something important.

You see, Twitter and television are the perfect complements to each other! Let me know your thoughts by commenting below or messaging me on Twitter @Spen_CR

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