Evidence of the Twitter-ization of television is everywhere you look these days, from customized hashtags in the corner of the screen during a TV show ("Fringe") to voting on episodic singing contests via social media ("The X Factor"). But the MTV series "Made" is taking the trend to a whole new level.
The long-running unscripted series opened up its 12th season on Monday with a curious name change. The series is now called "Made #DreamBigger." It's the first instance of a TV program actually changing its name to incorporate a hashtag, which even shows up in the cable/satellite electronic program guides.
The rationale is obvious enough: The hope is viewers will tweet about the series with the hashtag, which could help spread the word on Twitter enough to invite more viewers to sample "Made." But the notion that a network would go so far as to change the name of a show to extend a strategy typically reserved to a small on-air bug in the lower right corner–that really tells you something about how the TV industry views the power of Twitter.
An MTV spokeswoman confirmed that the name change is intended to increase engagement of viewers on Twitter but also made clear the title changes reflects a creative change to this season, which focuses on older subjects exploring more adult life choices (here's a press release announcing the new season).
That said, there's little evidence, at least at this early stage, that incorporating a hashtag in the title is whipping up some kind of grass-roots phenomenon for "Made." Searching on Twitter for #dreambigger reveals there's been maybe a few dozen mentions of the hashtag as it relates to "Made." While the phrase they've chosen to hashtag speaks to the aspirational nature of the show, MTV may have been courting confusion by picking a phrase that also happens to be the name of an upcoming show on Ashton Kutcher's new YouTube channel, Thrash Lab. Many mentions of #dreambigger on Twitter relate to Kutcher's show. (Small world: Kutcher is currently in business with MTV given the recent resuscitation of his series "Punk'd.")
Another strategic quibble: If you're going to change the name of your show on TV to court the Twitter crowd, wouldn't it also make sense to change the name of the show's Twitter account, which remains @MTVsMade.
And maybe the "Made" hashtag would have been better off with something more direct, like #watchmadepleasepleaseplease?
Check out the trailer for the new season of "Made" below.