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Monday, September 1, 2008

Hurricane Gustav Ushers In Interactive Television

Photo: Steve Garfield.com

I was expecting EQAL the creators of Lonely Girl 15 to create a show that would bring Interactive TV to the masses but it looks like it was Hurricane Gustav that made Interactive TV happen on a large scale last night with CNN's Rick Sanchez and Twitter.

Sure there's American Idol's text messaging and email and Facebook and yes using those platforms are interactive with TV shows but they don't have a back channel like the instant micro blogging site Twitter does. Twitter is a service where viewers/users can see what other viewers/users are talking about even if a TV show that is using it doesn't feature a user's comments.

Now it wasn't a perfect situation last night with CNN and Twitter. I was waiting for the ever overtaxed Twitter to go down every time CNN gave out the Twitter URL on-air and indeed I did see the Twitter "fail whale" (When Twitter crashes, users see the "fail whale" error message.) a couple of times but Twitter came back and kept working. Overall Rick Sanchez and his producer did a great job of using Twitter to interact with their viewers by using Twitter spending their time reading tweets from viewers on the ground near the storm and online humanitarians like Andy Carvin who spent the weekend setting up the Gustav Information Center and used Twitter to get the word out.

Moving forward with Twitter I think that with the proliferation of live video services like Ustream, Qik, Stickam and other services we are going to see new Interactive Television Shows incubate at speeds traditional TV development could never move at and based on last night I see News organization like CNN, Fox, MSNBC and others becoming potential investors or even buyers of Twitter.

If you are a producer considering creating an Interactive Television show you should take a close look at using Twitter with a Live Video streaming services today because your competition already has.


Steve Garfield said...

It was exciting to see how great this worked on CNN.

I'd love to get the backstory on how this ended up being used on air.

I was sitting at home thinking about some of my clients who did not take my advice to do this.

Now they it's going to look like they are copying CNN, which they will be.

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