We’ve all seen how powerful Twitter can be when combined with television: presidential debates have questions directly from viewers and any self-respecting reality tv show will incorporate fan tweeting and other interaction as much as possible. But it’s not just the television creators that wield the power – increasingly, it’s the fans.
These and many more hashtags have been powerful tools in the television industry, created by fans for various purposes: encouraging audiences to tune in or urging networks to save beloved shows anywhere from Netflix to NBC. It may seem like a useless distraction for fans to vent and feel powerful, but in reality, these Twitter campaigns have been wildly effective.
Take the show Community as a case study. Recently, Yahoo’s video-on-demand division Yahoo Screen picked up the show after NBC pulled the plug on it after its 5th season. Community fans had made themselves known throughout these 5 seasons, creating popular hashtags like #sixseasonsandamovie and making the show notorious for its intense fan dedication. Now just finished with its 6th season, Yahoo has found success in Community, all thanks to its active fan base.
There’s no doubt that Yahoo was swayed by Community’s aggressively-active fans to invest in the show in the first place. And being a strictly-online video source, Yahoo is prone to care about an active social media presence more than simple viewership numbers. Meaning fans don’t just have the power to keep a show on or bring it back to life, but the power to sustain it purely through clever social media campaigns.
It’s not just that networks will see the passion of the fans and change their minds on business decisions; instead, it’s that fans will carefully use social media to convince advertisers that the show is worth their time. During the show’s NBC days, Community fans bombarded advertisers with tweets thanking them for showing their ads during the show and supporting it.
Along with Yahoo Screen, other video-on-demand services like Hulu and Netflix have followed suit, listened to fan responses on Twitter and other platforms and are considering to bring a show back to life. The Mindy Project now has a home on Hulu, after being cancelled by FOX, partly because of fan campaigning.