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Entertainment broadcasters embrace social

In entertainment at least, broadcasters and social media networks are more friends than foes as they harness social media to innovate new content and increase ratings.

In Thursday afternoon’s session on the relationships between broadcasters and social networks, Joanna Wells, VP of Comedy Central, said that embracing social media and putting it at the heart of Viacom’s strategy has allowed it to achieve a social reach of ‘unsurpassed levels’.

She said that Viacom now boasts over 1.6 billion fans, followers and subscribers worldwide across all social media platforms and websites. The broadcaster also boasts six billion video views a month – a yearly increase of 61 per cent.

Central to Viacom’s strategy, said Wells, has been an investment in mobile and short-form content. “Content is still king but the definition of content has shifted. It’s as much about a Snap or a GIF as it is about long-form TV shows.”

Original shows for social include dating show Single AF, which puts the romantic fate of seven single celebrities in the hands of its MTV Facebook followers. The show, which will also be a 10-episode series due to TX in late October, has to date enjoyed 100 million views on MTV’s digital platforms and social accounts.

And while many traditional news organisations have criticised social media platforms for their handling of news content, MTV is embracing it and this year replaced its long-form journalism with short-form video pieces – a move that Wells said has led to over 150 million video views per month.

Fellow panellist Nick Dandy from Australian pay-TV broadcaster Foxtel also took a social-centric view to help build momentum for series five of its internationally popular prison drama series Wentworth. Key features included launching an integration room on

Facebook Live, which allows fans to ask a different character questions each week after the show had aired. Foxtel also added a Facebook messenger chatbot which is updated with three story arcs each week.

Dandy adds that discoverability is the key advantage to using platforms such as Facebook, but he adds that this comes with a caveat if the social networks want to remain ‘friends’: “We want to keep our content in our environment,” he said.