MILLION POUND DROP: THE BIRTH OF SOCIAL TV?
Game shows are nothing new, in fact they almost go as far back as their old and crusty wise-cracking hosts such as Brucie and Roy ‘it’s good but it’s not right’ Walker. The genre has remained popular throughout its lengthy tenure as a mass-appeal entertainment medium however, transcending age and gender, the play-along-home aspect has kept families squabbling over multiple choice answers, and crucially, kept its audiences coming back for more.
Of course the genre has not done so without evolving, and thanks to some creative brilliance, game shows have been able to remain fresh, exciting and relevant over the years. Simplicity seemed to be the order of the day in the noughties with the likes of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ and ‘Deal or No Deal’, which did away with questions completely, contrasting earlier favourites like ‘Bruce’s Price is Right’ with its sets of mini games and prize conveyor belts. Said shows still consistently draw in large numbers of viewers and the reality TV/ Game Show format adopted by the likes of Big Brother is worth more than a passing mention.
Although game shows have retained their appeal, whether through introducing radical new formats or integrating user interaction, allowing audiences to influence the outcome of the show (Big Brother), up until now we have not seen a succinct link up between the internet and the good ol’ telly box. Cue ‘The Million Pound Drop’. This show airs sporadically for weeks at a time on Channel 4, and last week, introduced an interactive online element that splices the two media effectively to create a unique viewing experience.
The show works as a standalone entity and is a tense, compelling watch watch, but it is also expertly integrated with an online element that lets users play along live as the show progresses. The idea taps into people’s increasing penchant for multitasking (See previous post), i.e. simultaneously browsing and watching telly. This enriches the overall viewing experience meaning users can participate in the show rather than simply passively consuming (the show that is, not endless bags of Kettle Chips).
Crucially, the live site also seamlessly integrates Facebook and Twitter feeds meaning users can publish their progress and the popular social networking sites with just one click. A veritable dream come true for armchair enthusiasts, this will allow those who’ve always professed their superior knowledge to long suffering family members the chance to prove their mettle to the world. Viewers are also invited to tweet witty one liners about the show using a dedicated hashtag, a selection of which are read out by McCall at regular intervals.
The dual platform format used by Channel 4 is a clever innovation, but more importantly, it works. It represents a key partnership between television and the internet in an era where the latter is constantly threatening to make that box in the corner obsolete. The Million Pound Drop could set the benchmark for the future of entertainment in which the internet and television are interwoven, creating a new genre, social TV.