Frankly it was hardly suprising that most of last nights Question Time became a bit of slangging match. From the panel, to the audience to the twitterati. Nick Griffin still shocking as ever but not surprising in any way. It meandered its way in and out of homophobia (Stephen Gately), immigration (Winston Churchill) and racism (the KKK) - (all of whom will be starring in my script for a new west end musical - so watch this space!) - but what was most interesting, that of course wasn't mentioned in the show as it was recorded a couple of hours previously - was the reaction on twitter. As I mentioned during the show last night watching TV has changed dramatically when you add twitter into the mix. Some of the biggest televised events in recent months have taken on a whole new dimension when you add the live commentary of the twitterati to the mix, and the result is very interesting. From Jackson's funeral, Obama's inauguration to last nights BNP debacle (who co-incidental feature in part two of my musical), these events have been amplified dramatically through the help of real-time media - of which twitter has been central.
This is interesting from a number of points, firstly that of people using multiple media sources simultaneously is slowly moving into the mainstream as Alan from Broadsight's Broadstuff blog pointed out today:
The dream of people interacting around TV programming via social networks, a key plank of Joost's original pitch, has been shown to be valid - its just that people are using a microblogging service on standard terrestrial TV rather than herding sheeplike into the Web TV players' own social networks
The way in which these media are now complimenting each other and providing additional functionality, as opposed to driving one or the other to the brink of extinction goes one step further to prove that we really are becoming a convergent culture, and are able to cope and adopt many different types of media, without sacrificing our time to another.
What is truly interesting however was the way in which twitter influenced the viewing of the programme in the first place. Last night's programme received over 8 million viewers, more than doubling the last highest audience of 3.7 million. According to my research using Radian6 (our social media monitoring partner which we use here at Ogilvy) - the hashtag for question time - #bbcqt was used over 5000 times in the past 3 days (although the BBC reportedly say it was used 75,000 times), over half of which took place before the programme had started. The reach of these 2000+ tweets is phenomenal.
Looking at just the top 10 most followed twitter users who used the #tag in the past 3 days (even if they only used it once) would amount to a potential reach of nearly 250,000 followers - if you start adding up Mr Anderson's "long tail" you begin to see the bigger picture, and how this could have some clear influence on reaching new audiences that would never usually watch the show.
The question is now, how will the BBC capitalise this in other areas? Tweeting Songs of Praise? Guess the price on Antique's Roadshow? GPS tagged tweets during Location Location Location?
The possibilities are endless...