Watch and Tweet live


This evening ITV are conducting an experiment in the combination of social media and TV watching. At 7:20pm, they’re broadcasting the first episode of the new series of Primeval live on their website, with a live Twitter feed of the #primeval hashtag underneath.

The idea being it allows people to react to and discuss the episode in real time and, I’m guessing, therefore driving enthusiasm for the show amongst those taking part and awareness and consideration of the show amongst their Twitter followers.

The presidential inauguration on Live

Now clearly it’s not going to be as successful as CNN’s much more sophisticated use of Facebook connect during the recent presidential inauguration, but still, an interesting step from the ailing broadcaster.

Just don’t forget to turn your lights off after taking part…

Update: Ben Ayers, Social Media and Online Engagement Manager at ITV was kind enough to share his thoughts on how the experiment went:

There were really high levels of interaction on Saturday, with use of the #Primeval tag generating a buzz around the show throughout transmission. Fans seemed to enjoy the sense of watching something together and sharing their thoughts and it became apparent that most people were doing this using Twitter or a Twitter client in conjunction with their televisions.

Some viewers were watching the simulcast while they tweeted but I suspect that these weren’t in huge numbers, with most probably opting to tweet while watching the TV. As bandwidth increases this may become rapidly more popular, especially for those in large families with more computers than TVs.

With such a healthy buzz around the show, there appear to be real advantages to hosting such conversations on our site, not least because they make fans more likely to explore related content, like Primeval Evolved for example, as an extension of the experience. There’s also the sense that fans feel that their thoughts are being listened to by ITV which is really important.

We’ll continue to explore using social media spaces like Twitter and Facebook to engage with fans of our shows. Project Penguin, the overhaul of key parts of, will make the site considerably more social and we’ll be looking at integrating social media functionality where it makes sense.

We realise now more than ever that we have to host, enable and join the conversation around our shows where appropriate (which is most of the time). After all, there’s only one thing worse than being talked about and that’s not even being part of the conversation.

Update 2: So for episode 2 the experiment continued, with the writer of the epsisode live tweeting during the show and answering questions.

Update 3: Some related research and thinking from John Burbank of Nielsen Online.

Update 4: The BBC tries something similar with The Apprentice Predictor which not only allows you to view the show live along with a chat window (although it doesn’t use Twitter), but also allows you to have a go at predicting which contestant will be fired by the end of the show…

Update 5: Nick Burcher has a good post on Eurovision and Twitter – #Eurovision the ultimate in social TV?

Update 6: ITV are innovating again with a more refined live Twitter experiement during the FA Cup final.

Update 7: A nice post from FreshNetworks looking at how ITV with X Factor and the BBC with Strictly Come Dancing are handling realtime chat.

Update 8: ABC is introducing a new feature aimed at encouraging viewers who stream their favorite shows online to make the experience more social.