Simon Says: Twitter TV is both Good, Bad and Ugly

Twitter World Cup Hashtag Screenshot

Twitter must have seen it coming… with the World Cup in full swing Twitters “mute” button couldn’t have come at a better time for me (and anyone else who dislikes the spot).

It’s a great feature, but I’d be keen to see Twitter allow you to block out words and hashtags from your timeline. Never again will I have to see #JustinBieberForLife.

The only interesting thing about the World Cup on Twitter to me was their inclusion of pages dedicated to each game. You’re able to select a team you want to support (if you like) and show off your “true colours” by customising your profile picture and cover art to reflect the team of your choice.

The pages themselves are a godsend. At least they would be if I liked football. They’re easy to navigate on the mobile app (I use Android, can’t comment on the iPhone, but I’ll assume the layout is similar).

They gave every game a hashtag for people to use. An inspired albeit belated move given every show displays a hashtag at the beginning of the episode.

Twitter has always been a place for people to talk openly and share ideas with strangers during TV shows. The watercooler talk has moved from the office the next morning to the handset 2 seconds after it has occurred and I for one love it (or I would be if I liked football).

Football is the kind of game where you’re able to live tweet the action and take part in conversations during the game. It’s like X Factor or Brittan’s Got Talent in that way. I could firmly see both of those talent shows using these pages to own more of the online conversation around the contestants.

My big fear is that it impacts great TV shows negatively. Not every TV show should want to trend on Twitter during transmission. Some shows require your attention to be on the television.

A prime example of this is BBC’s Inside No 9. SecondSync produced a graph (below) that shows it received an average of 21 Tweets Per Minute during transmission. If we compare this to Mrs Brown’s Boys (below as well), this had 439 Tweets Per Minute.

This wasn’t a one off either. Every episode of the dark comedy (see additional graphs below) had almost no chatter during transmission but directly after everyone wanted to comment.

This is the sign of a great TV show: One that holds your attention on the TV, not in your phone. After all, you don’t live tweet a book or a film or a play unless you’ve lost interest or attention for a second.


With Twitter's ugly Facebook-inspired redesign I am interested to see what they have planned for TV. Given most Channels are going “on demand” it will be interesting to see how they adjust to the conversation happening at different times, rather than in real-time.

They must have a long-term plan, but I really hope it includes changing back the design of the profile pages to look simpler and less clunky. 

Graphs (c) SecondSync.