The impact: Social media spoilers and TV

PHD's Christina Laczka and ZO's Rosemary Cooper on how pre-taped shows like The Amazing Race Canada and their sponsors can deal with social media spoilers.

Bell Media announced earlier this week that The Amazing Race Canada will be making its premiere on CTV on Monday July 15 at 9 p.m., but social media spoilers have begun leaking pieces of the show, which is already in production across Canada.

Of course this isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) show to have portions revealed by people posting production shots (and video) to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Vine, so MiC checked in with Rosemary Cooper, group video director, ZenithOptimedia Canada, and Christina Laczka, group director, PHD, to get their take on the impact these spoilers have on the shows and sponsorships.

What impact (or buzz-generating value) do social media spoilers have on reality TV shows that have yet to air?

Rosemary Cooper: I think it depends on the amount of time between the spoiler and the air date – the shorter the duration, the more buzz it can generate for the show. It also depends on what the spoiler is – if it’s like a movie trailer and showing a scene that generates excitement that the viewer can then see in greater detail soon after, then that could increase anticipation and viewership.

Christina Laczka: With respect to spoilers and The Amazing Race Canada, I really don’t believe there is a negative impact from an audience perspective. The Amazing Race franchise has a strong following, and has garnered huge audiences in Canada and the US for years. Social media has been creating buzz around all reality TV for years. I always know who is going to win The Bachelor/Bachelorette beforehand, but this doesn’t deter me from watching the drama unfold.

How do social media posts like these impact sponsorships with reality TV shows?

Cooper: If it’s a product integration that’s being posted, that could just be added viewing for the integration. However, it could have a slight impact on viewing if the post is announcing the winner or giving away all the potential surprises at the beginning of the program. I saw several posts for the winner of a reality show near the beginning of the show – looks like the finale did better than the previous year, however, the lead-up shows and the average were lower. It’s difficult to tell if it was [because of] the contestants, competitive programming or that the winner had already been announced so viewers tuned it at the end to see if the prediction was correct. For reality TV, you want viewers to connect with the contestants, root for a favourite and feel engaged throughout the whole series; it’s that engagement with the viewer that’s one of main reasons clients want to associate themselves through sponsorships with specific shows.

Laczka: Social media helps create buzz and sponsors only get added exposure. For instance, in the shots within the article that you attached, Air Canada is prominent. As one of Amazing Race Canada‘s premiere sponsors, I would not be disappointed. I also believe tweets and Facebook mentions will only get people interested in watching the show. “They were in my city, where did they go? What did they do?” One of the benefits of social media is that it gives people the feeling of “first to know.” Loyal audiences crave this information, and it is a great way to create hype. It’s an exciting time where social media can help drive audiences to watch programming.

How can reality TV shows stay ahead of the social media posters to stop leaks like these from being released?

Cooper: Shoot closer to the air dates for the final episodes – a show like The Amazing Race Canada involves a lot of travel/editing  time so this would be more difficult, but shows with live finales would generate more excitement for everyone. Maybe the option is to shoot some fake footage of the ending – everyone shows up for the finale, so you could show some variations involving the final five couples so that no one know if they’re seeing the real finale or the fake – could generate a lot of speculation.