NAB: social media ‘crucial to future of network TV’

Bob Greenblatt

Bob Greenblatt

Extending flagship show brands to have a strong presence on social media is central to ensuring the future of broadcast TV, according to NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt.

Speaking at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Greenblatt said that social media is key to bringing audiences back to network television in the US, adding that this has been a priority for him at NBC.

He said he expects social and digital to become “one big thing” along with traditional linear broadcast, and that nightly ratings will become less important over time – despite networks’ dependence on advertising revenue.

Ratings on shows can now be tracked over time, long after their broadcast airing. “We couldn’t track those numbers in the past,” he said. “It is about looking at the long-tail of the show.

Greenblatt noted that NBC had no social presence at all when his team took charge at the broadcaster – which found itself in fourth place among the big four US national network broadcasters – and said that social media and digital distribution have been key in enabling NBC to turn its fortunes around.

“We now embed digital producers on every show… so we can figure out what are the stories we are telling beyond just the show that we are producing,” he said. NBC now has a “huge digital division” to look at each platform and device and make sure the network’s shows are present on them.

Brand identities are losing their cachet, because audiences are seeking out content from any source, rather than exhibiting loyalty to a specific network, said Greenblatt.

As such, he pointed out the power of shows like Saturday Night Live, which spreads awareness via the internet as much as via broadcast TV. SNL has also worked closely with Snapchat to create vertically-formatted content as part of that social media drive.

NBC has now developed an app to make all content from SNL‘s catalogue available, which Greenblatt said had seen strong take-up: “We thought let’s just take all that stuff and put it out there, and I think that’s contributed to the show being one of the most popular on network television.”

Turning his attention to The Voice, Greenblatt said that NBC had sought to bring stars of the show “into the social dialogue”. He said that the show’s popularity was due in no small part to its social and digital extensions, including the show’s app.

A “mini version of the show” has also appeared on Snapchat. “It takes the show to other places than just sitting in your living room and looking at those chairs,” he said.

Even drama shows such as This is Us, a recent hit for the network, can benefit from NBC’s social strategy. “This is one of the most social shows that we have,” he said. An ‘after show’ is available on social media channels, where stars of the programme interact with fans.

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