Buzz helps TVGN’s Big Brother: After Dark engage audience via Twitter

Big Brother After Dark

The Client

Big Brother: After Dark is a live program that airs on TVGN, a U.S. cable and satellite channel. On air for more than seven years, with the last two as an exclusive to TVGN, the show provides its audience with a live feed from inside the Big Brother House where a group of people live together and compete for a $500,000 grand prize, each week voting a contestant out of the house. The show airs seven nights per week on the network.

In recent years, the show has steadily increased the options for fans to interact with the show. More than 10 million hours of video were streamed live in 2013 and 31 million subscriber entries were made to chat rooms. The introduction of fan-driven Impact Votes to the primetime edition of the program generated more than 10 million fan votes, an increase in fan engagement of 529 percent over the previous year. [http://www.cbs.com/shows/big_brother/news/1002621/]

The Challenge

With direct viewer engagement becoming an increasingly important component of the Big Brother experience, Big Brother: After Dark producers sought to enhance their share of the franchise by integrating viewer-generated tweets, tweets from celebrities and former contestants, and responses from production staff with the on air presentation. Their initial attempts were frustrated by a highly manual process that introduced delays, hampered moderation, interfered with approval processes and burdened staff.

TVGN needed a streamlined solution that would eliminate such hurdles, enabling producers to effectively curate social media contributions and deliver tweets to air. The process would have to be swift to ensure that contributions appeared on air in a timely manner that would appeal to viewers, but without sacrificing rigorous editorial control. As this part of the audience experience was new, decision makers wanted a solution that was reliable, would require minimal training and would cost-effectively integrate with its existing playout environment.

The Solution

Frustrated by the high cost and complexity of some of the specialized social media management packages on the market, TVGN learned about the Buzz social media platform being developed by incumbent broadcast graphics vendor Pixel Power. With the new season of Big Brother: After Dark under way, TVGN opted to deploy Buzz at Encompass LA which hosts the networks playout facilities.

Trained in less than two hours, Big Brother: After Dark’s head of creative services and two social media consultants for the network took to the air, and Twitter, to engage with the audience. An efficient workflow has one team member flagging tweets for inclusion in the on air queue. Special tweets identified by certain key words or identified by the ID of the twitter ensure that valuable contributions from past cast members and celebrities are easy to identify. The tweets appear in an easy-to-use Excel spreadsheet where a second team member checks the text and can modify the content for length or other criteria. The third member provides final approval.

Once approved, the text is automatically inserted into graphics templates for playout by Pixel Power Logovision alongside the rest of the show’s graphics. Keywords and IDs automatically trigger special templates that have been created to showcase contributions from special contributors.

The Results

From the first use, producers reported an impressive increase in the volume of tweets to the show and a noticeable upswing in the shows trending on Twitter. The social media team has dramatically reduced the time between receipt of a tweet and it’s appearance on air, attributable to the Buzz system’s ease of use.

By reducing the burden and increasing the effectiveness of the tools available to the team, Buzz has made it possible for them to confidently pass a broader array of contribution to air. Producers are eager to evaluate data on engagement and interactivity as the season continues.