Twitter on air Wallenstein

Social media doesn't have to be just a companion to a TV show

There’s no debating Twitter has firmly established itself as the go-to real-time companion to TV, allowing viewers to connect with each other about what they watch while they’re watching.

But rather than relegating itself to a marketing vehicle for vid programmers, Twitter could be in position to move up the media food chain. Think video and social intertwined — not just the occasional six-second Vine clip.

It’s a notion being put to the test via two different productions that treat Twitter more as an exhibition window than as a promotional platform.

Have a look at @EpicEDM, which intersperses links to videos featuring profiles of luminaries on the electronic dance music scene with news and chatter from the various celebrity DJs who have massive Twitter followings. @EpicEDM is produced and financed by Believe Entertainment Group, a digital studio with a strong track record as a first mover for programming digital platforms with top talent, including LeBron James.

The other pioneer here is the Chernin Group, which is launching @SummerBreak, an unscripted narrative that follows the real lives of a group of coincidentally attractive high school graduates in the months before they head off to college.

It makes sense that @EpicEDM and @SummerBreak are programming content on social media itself rather than conventional TV or video platforms, given youngsters spend so much time there anyway. But there’s something potentially deeper at play here.

While @EpicEDM so far is limited to just video and tweets, its backers envision it evolving away from a broadcast model and incorporating content from the users itself. Imagine the telecast of a DJ performance, for instance, where in addition to seeing footage of the event from the performer’s cameras, there are additional stills, video and text from those in the audience. The program becomes more of a curation of experiences than the feed from just one source.

Distributing video on the hyperconnected platform of Twitter can mean so much more than the traditional notion of what a show is, beyond just a unidirectional linear transmission at a fixed time.

To truly hew to the contours of Twitter, a show can generate content from the audience that can be incorporated back into the primary material in a participatory way, like a quizshow, or maybe even influence the outcome of the program, like the options of a multi-stranded vidgame or a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. Seen through to its fullest extent, this would create an entire new style of programming.

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