Have Audience, Will Travel

Deadline had the story, “DONE DEAL: Ashton Kutcher New Star Of ‘Two & A Half Men’ Replacing Charlie Sheen

I don’t watch, nor care about, Two & A Half Men.  What I do care about was the following statement in the article:

And last but not least, he has 6.7 million Twitter followers. That’s more than the audience for the Two and a Half Men repeat this past Monday.

Leave it to modern journalists to bury the lead on this one.

This news comes out of the 2011 Fall Season lineup announcements.

This is when the networks release which pilots got picked up and which shows are being cancelled and won’t be coming back.

The cancellation list is a bloodbath of mostly one and two season shows.  In the case of the new Paul Reiser show, that got cancelled after two episodes.

It’s clear that the networks can not afford to “experiment” on building an audience over time.

Growth has to happen on day one, or they are cutting their losses.

Need further proof of this?  Law & Order: Los Angeles, a show based on a franchise that has made NBC a small fortune; cancelled.

Or, Stargate Universe which is part of a fourteen year SyFy network franchise; cancelled after two seasons.

What does all this mean?

Well, when it comes to taking one of the most popular sitcom and trying to keep it on the air, you don’t bother with the Box Office Mojo stats.

The take away on this story is: when it comes to hiring anyone going forward, Hollywood (and other industries) are going to be looking for people who bring an active audience with them on day one and do higher levels of interaction with that audience.

I wrote a bit about this on a blog for work (IBM) about Felicia Day, our Innovate 2011 keynote speaker, and the audience she has developed for her series The Guild.

The idea being that her audience is more actively engaged in the work that she does and there’s more of a person-to-person exchange with her audience versus the passive nature of other audiences.

For example: when she “crosses back” into mainstream media and guest stars on the upcoming season of the SyFy show Eureka, she’s bringing a portion of her 1.8 million followers along for the ride.  And some, such as myself, will be new viewers.

Both CBS (and SyFy) will benefit from the ground work that Kutcher (and Day) have done to build an audience before the cameras even start rolling.

Social media is not just “free publicity.”  When done right it engages the audience and it connects individuals person-by-person.

The active social media audience is the one that will bring success to any project.

Why do you think Charlie Sheen rushed to create a Twitter account after his meltdown?

In 2012, expect to see a lot of stock given to social media following for new shows and the actors that are selected for those pilots.

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