Before I write anything about Survivor, let me get a few things out of the way. Yes, Survivor is still on the air. Yes, people still watch it. And yes, I am one of those people who have seen every episode of every season and will continue to watch until it goes off the air.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve tuned in for 23 seasons is the host, Jeff Probst. He’s probably most well-known for delivering lines like “the tribe has spoken” while wearing his go-to outfit: khaki pants, blue button down shirt and a hat. But he’s more than just a catchphrase. He’s really, really good at his job. For example, during one tribal council last season a situation escalated and accusations of racism were thrown out. I was incredibly uncomfortable watching from home so I can’t imagine how tense it was around the fire. Probst handled the situation brilliantly.
If I sound like a fan girl, it’s because I am. In the last year, I’ve been really impressed with his decision to join Twitter and connect with fans in what he calls the “virtual living room.” Probst joined Twitter on his own accord and started live-tweeting during episodes as they aired last season. His tweets provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of Survivor, 140 characters at a time.
The response was overwhelming. CBS quickly took notice and capitalized on promoting Probst’s Twitter handle and encouraging fans to live-tweet along with him. This season Probst has upped the ante and added Tout to his social media repertoire. He uses Tout to expand his comments beyond the Twitter character limit. During commercial breaks, he posts 15- to 30-second video responses to questions from fans. The videos give a more personal feel to the virtual living room experience and a few fans each week get a shout out from the man himself. Pretty cool for us Survivor buffs.
I don’t have any exact data, but I would guess Probst’s social media efforts have helped combat the DVR effect. Obviously networks make money off of advertisers so they want viewers to watch live rather than DVR a show and skip over the commercials. I personally have changed my viewing habits and try to watch the show live whenever possible so I can experience it along with Probst. Of course the question remains to be answered whether or not Probst’s live-tweeting has resulted in new viewers or just made existing viewers more loyal. While the networks are ratings-driven, I truly believe Probst is in it to have fun and connect with anyone who shares his passion for Survivor.
Whether or not you are a Survivor fan, the virtual living room Probst has created is a great case study about the use of live-tweeting to connect with viewers and potentially combat the DVR effect. And it further reinforces Probst’s enthusiasm and dedication to the show and its followers.
Do you think live-tweeting can impact viewers’ behavior? Have you seen other examples where this tool has been implemented effectively? And more importantly, what’s your favorite Jeff Probst catchphrase? Cast your vote!