Are the current awards shows really ready for the 21st century? How are they evolving to meet the challenges of the new landscape? Let’s look a little deeper than the surface, shall we:
Social Media & Awards Shows 2016
The most notable play for modernizing the national fascination that is Awards Shows in the US came with the 86th Academy Awards in 2014. It’s most notable moment was Ellen Degeneres taking the selfie seen around the world. She live-tweeted the whole thing thanks to a Samsung tie-in. To many a critic and armchair enthusiast there were many groans, understandably. That wasn’t our opinion.
That doesn’t however mean they weren’t groundbreaking, and even if you’ll permit — ahead of their time & the curve. Two years ago, it wasn’t atypical to have people second-screening, as that had been happening for me & others for quite a while. In fact since I can’t watch these events with all my friends because they are scattered across the country & the world. Regularly during such live events we partake in posting updates across many different sites and joking along with each other, express our outrage or mere disappointment. This is actually more pleasurable one could argue as sitting in a room full of drunk rabblerousers saying the exact same thing. It is asynchronous in that way. Silent, save for the clacking of keyboards or touchscreens clicking, and available during the commercial breaks to vent.
This still happened last night, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you missed it. It seems that in these unprecedented times that there really wasn’t much made about it. Sure it trended, as it should or any will. Even given no stiff competition from anything else on a Monday night. There were (as of now) over 7 Million tweets about the Grammys and that is a fair showing, less than the Super Bowl but beyond respectable.
Platforms vying for your attention:
- Twitter, heralded by no less than @Jack tweeted early that you should “follow” the Moments tab for The Grammys which was supposed to bring to your Timeline the best bits
- Just now, for reasons that stupefy me the Instagram App used my notifications to urge me to check out their video from the night [WHY? *]
- SnapChat, Vine, Facebook and others tried in their own ways to grab the spotlight as well but in lesser degrees
- CBS streamed it live on their App
Thoughts on those specific methods/strategies/co-brandings:
- Twitter: While not watching live, didn’t benefit from supposed “follow” status, when checked this morning the category didn’t seem to exist, in fact there were several Grammy moments, none of which seemed appealing (given most of what was important was already on the Timeline with commentary from people followed & respected) #FAIL
- InstaGram: Don’t. Just don’t ever use the notifications to push your agenda. Already get too many notifications, and have specifically turned off any that aren’t related to new follow/comments. So what makes you think that somehow pushing your Grammy coverage was a “must-see” #FAIL
- The Others: Will gladly admit the rest seemed lackluster but may have held some passing appeal for its users. However, for power-users, influencers, early adopters ~ each of these seemed to fall flat. Periscopes floated as did other options, but again they seemed at best to be reaching for what would have been better live coverage. As to Facebook well videos/links and very populist, but not many memes or OMG experiences (save: Kendrick Lamar’s performance) that resonated with everyone.
- CBS: Trying to HBOGo the awards show & use this as a push to get people to pay for their service (or adopt it if they have cable) ~ how did that work for you? #FAIL
Were these the right methods or not forward thinking enough?
Surely they were discussed and social media was lit up with responses and shares. That is not at question, but in the wake of the morning after, with multiple posts, pages, videos embedded within, commentary on…they all seem somewhat hollow. Yes the global watercooler that is the internet is for this moment in full swing, but forgive us for feeling like something is off.
Again, this is all anecdotal, nothing scientific but there was much more influence and impact in real-time garnered by the Super Bowl, All-Star Game, and others. Awards shows would do well to study how they manage that, and take lessons. Especially the Academy when it rolls out the Oscars shortly. This isn’t to say that running a live show, one filled with numerous performers, multiple (technically difficult) events, all wrapped in the very complex layer of live-to-broadcast streams isn’t already a monumental feat.
Then adding on top of that, another added “extra” layer of interactivity, or another set of streams to maintain must be the Triathalon of Social Media Management. Requiring whole teams & months of preparation. Bringing that set of skills into an already crowded table seems difficult. Except that you can remember these are billion-dollar undertakings put up with the aid & full support, financially backed by huge conglomerates with the ‘best PR talent on the planet.’ In that light, it seems like traditional (and social) media types really haven’t gotten their arms around the art of the live event. They are even planning next year’s while we digest what happened last night. Yet like the Entertainment Industry in general, they are conservative, hunkering masses, that are resistant to change, but they need to be careful or they’ll end up with lower ratings and less money from ad revenues!
The Oscars has been on a decline, and for the second year in a row is facing #OscarsSoWhite backlash against their nomination process. It does not bode well for them, even as Chris Rock hosts, to what is probably going to be more lackluster ratings and a show that is full of criticisms. There will be, as the MSM requires the “touching speech, the protest, the gaffe, backstage moment, and tons of red carpet dos & don’ts” and not necessarily in that order. That will be what their media teams & the supporting enabling sychophants in the ultra-consolidated media outlets will do, what has worked for them in the past. Someone is writing up the Headline Templates right now for it, and leaving the names blank.
Now it should be noted that Hamilton: The Musical had a stupendous night & had that breakout moment where it grabbed the nation’s attention after their performance, trended and actually sparked interest in what is (here in NYC) a phenomenon. The show is completely sold-out for months & has a very avid fanbase, but last night got skyrocketed into national spotlight that will propel the national tour they are scheduling.
Conclusion or Collusion
Not sure what would make them better, but recognizing, in this day & age all the people who both watch, support, and also talk about you incessantly on social media doesn’t seem indulgent, it seems like what should be obvious by now. Of course (in past experiments) that has looked like flashing tweets along the bottom, or other inanity, and those seem tone-deaf ideas from marketers.
Get the live-stream down, more and more people are cord-cutters with zero options for broadcast TV channels. So work on this, and partner with YouTube, Facebook or Periscope, or some other well supported platform and give us more of what goes into making the show remarkable & ultimately watchable. MTV gives you a feed that is all b-roll, audience shot footage, not optimal, but more worthwhile than paying for a CBS app & having it crash or not work properly.
We seem to have no winners for best memes either, like a live show is usually always meme-worthy, but not when it comes off bloviated as the Grammys did. When David Bowie’s son hates Gaga’s tribute, Natalie Cole’s Family is mad at her tribute, Kendrick’s performance blows away the African-American communities, and all you have is an Adele off night & Taylor is the first woman to win back-to-backs this seems like it wasn’t the event that makes the Grammys legendary. It seems like we are at that moment when the generational divide is so stark between those that want what they’ve always had, and a younger hungrier audience that wants more. After all anyone who follows the industry knows that your ratings holding steady is not a win, it is a loss, a minor one, but it isn’t what you hope for. The goal is to increase your viewers and to get more money from advertisers.
Did you watch? What did you think? Tell us below in the comments:
* WHY?: … use notifications to send this, what do they have vested in it, other than getting the host LL Cool J to live-post from them? This is an abuse as far as we are concerned, you don’t need to draw us in to like/comment on these posts. What exactly does that accomplish? Sell more records, you don’t somehow connect more deeply with them if they are all now following LL, do you? That seems to defeat the above stated purpose of sharing & commenting with friends. For many in this tabloid culture times however the power of ‘influencer’ marketing and maintaining the interest of millennials who have never known a time where awards shows didn’t happen every few weeks to televised seems to blind them to rather dull marketing moves like this. Under a million hashtag uses & nothing remotely branded in the Top Posts? Yeah Facebook had better offerings (including full videos of the performances) which makes InstaGram the platform of last resort during live-shows.That & no threaded messages…get on that Zuck!