Starting Wednesday, the NBC talk show will begin broadcasting from the iPhone-equipped green room booth via “Today’s” Facebook page, which has 5.1 million followers. The show also is launching an Instagram “Mini Room,” featuring a replica of the “Today” anchor desk scaled to less than half the actual size, which will let guests upload photos to the @TODAYshow account.
For Facebook, which paid for the installation of the booths, the “Today” pact brings a premiere media partner to its live-video platform. Facebook Live has become a strategic imperative for the social giant, which has been seeking to cut deals with TV networks, celebrities and sports leagues including the NFL.
“Today” guests spend upwards of two hours at the show’s Manhattan studio, for what typically results in 2-7 minutes on air, said executive producer of digital Ashley Parrish. The new Facebook Live and Instagram booths will let “Today” produce more content around those appearances, in the hopes of ultimately driving fans to click over to Today.com or tune in to NBC.
“The goal is to pull back the curtain between us and our social audience,” she said. “Our guests can go in and talk directly to our Facebook audience… This is an opportunity to create digital-exclusive content with celebrities.”
The interactive green room installations will debut around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. “Today” Orange Room host Carson Daly will be the first to sit in the Facebook Live Booth, and guest co-host and WWE superstar John Cena is slated to be photographed in the Instagram Mini Room. In future segments, other celebrity guests and “Today” hosts will hop into the booths, which were built by FoxTales, a Laguna Hills, Calif.-based company that specializes in custom interactive installations.
“Today” will showcase the interactive booths with on-air teasers, with plans to highlight the Facebook Live green-room feed in the telecast.
Visitors to the Facebook Live Booth will be able to engage in a real-time Q&A with fans. To get the conversation started, producers have posted a questionnaire inside the booth for guests to answer, with entries like “I have to (blank) every morning to start the day off right” and “Who would play you in the movie of your life?”
“Our hope and guess is that when they answer the first question, it will spawn more interaction from the audience,” Parrish said. “Today” is not requiring guests to participate in the Facebook or Instagram booths, but she added, “I think because we’re making it easy we’ll get a lot of people excited.”
Other TV networks using Facebook Live include NBCUniversal’s E!, which last week launched a daily news and gossip talk show on the site.
Since Facebook’s live-streaming app launched last summer, dozens of celebrities and media companies have used the service. Disney promoted “Alice Through the Looking Glass” in a Facebook Live Q&A with Johnny Depp and director James Bobin on Tuesday, and earlier this month Jennifer Garner used Facebook Live to answer fan questions about her new movie, “Miracles From Heaven.”
UPDATE: Watch Carson Daly’s inaugural in-your-face Facebook Live session here. Below is John Cena sitting in the Instagram Mini Booth.