For years there has been the occasional “spoiled ending” due to telephone calls, network bloopers, and other such inconveniences. But never in history have the major networks failed so bad in trying to put a East Coast <—–> West Coast delay. While viewers in most of the U.S. were wrapping up the live broadcast of The Grammy Awards, viewers on the West Coast were just getting started with the tape-delayed version, airing at 8 p.m. PT. As is customary for many viewers now, many on the left coast opened their Twitter and Facebook accounts to chat along with the action — just in time to catch the East Coast updates announcing the album of the year.
Of course, CBS wanted everyone on the West Coast to watch, but by the time the taped broadcast was getting underway, all of the top Twitter trends were related to the Grammys. The Grammy Twitter and Facebook accounts kept pace with the live broadcast. I can remember last years American Idol winner being spoiled for my buddy in Seattle due to Twitter.
“How can there be time delay in the age of Twitter??? L-A-M-E,” says one of many tweets complaining about the time difference. “Social media #FAIL,” said another. And some who just watched the live broadcast commiserated with the left coast. “I feel like I cheated on my West Coast Twitter peeps,” wrote one. “Hey West Coast #Grammys Tweeters! Read my tweets from 3hrs ago simultaneously along with your viewing,” joked another.
The live blog on Grammys.com was even worse — organizers didn’t even try to cater to the West Coast audience. They put a timestamp on each update that included both Eastern and Pacific time, but as the shows overlapped, all the updates stuck with the live broadcast. Just as West Coast users first logged into Grammys.com, they saw the biggest spoilers of the night from the end of the East Coast show.
The end result was a clash of time zones that underlines the new reality that you can’t have it both ways in today’s social media world. Two-screen experiences are now the norm for many TV households, especially among key younger demos that network television is so desperate to keep. Social engagement is at its highest for live events “where the outcome is uncertain,” said Twitter’s Robin Sloan after MTV’s VMA awards, which was broadcast live on both coasts. The Oscars and the Super Bowl are two other prime examples, all with a flood of real-time updates in sync with the live broadcasts.
When the outcome is no longer uncertain, there’s less of a need to engage — or even to watch. While the decision to run an awards show in primetime on both coasts is clearly an economic one, we wouldn’t be surprised if the outcry begins to manifest itself in the West Coast ratings in the younger demos. If not this year, then certainly next time.
What do you think? Has social media ruined the whole East Coast/West Coast (or as I like to say Tupac/Biggee) thing in television media? Talk to me.
Post inspired by lostremote article by Cory Bergman