First of all, here I am, and yes, New York welcomed me with open arms indeed. After spending the first night on a friend’s couch (thank you!), I got introduced to the beautiful neighborhood of Sunnyside and moved into an own apartment which I share with a very decent roommate. Did not somebody from Jersey City tell me “live anywhere but Queens”? It will take me some time to understand the dogmas when it comes to NYC boroughs. That is a separate issue.
Earlier this week, I attended an insightful event at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway, organized by the Center for Communication: Social TV and the Multi-Screen Experience. Sabrina Caluori (VP, Social Media & Performance Marketing, HBO), Scott Rosenberg (Co-Founder and CEO, Umami), Galye Weiswasser (VP, Social Media, Discovery Communications), and Natan Edelsburg (VP, Sawhorse Media) discussed the trend of social media turning the traditional one-way model of watching television into an interactive experience. Everybody with an interest in media should consider taking a look at the latest trends and innovations, such as HBO Connect, Bravo TV’s Tweet Tracker or Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco To Go. Once again I had to realize how large the innovation and adaptation gaps between the American and European entertainment production and marketing sectors still are.
U.S. broadcasters are exploring completely new ways to get noticed by offering viewers opportunities to get more engaged with their favorite programming. Today’s wide use of smartphones and tablets enables content distributors to pursue a multi-screen strategy (TV being the first screen). A show’s fanbase is the foundation of the whole concept. Many Americans are very enthusiastic about their favorite shows and very willing to share their thoughts on what they watch. Of course, television has always had a social component, but the times when friends sat together in a living room in order to watch a TV show are pretty much passé for Generation Facebook. Today it is all about virtual buttons (share, comment, tweet etc.). And broadcasters are picking up the trend. The number of screens per person increases, stars begin to interact with fans, and online communication continues to grow. The approach certainly has a huge potential on the global entertainment markets, but I am not sure if I would ever be ready to get engaged with it from a personal user perspective. When I watch a show or a movie, I do not want to get distracted by Twitter feeds or some new ingenious second-screen platforms. This is the point when social media starts to downgrade the experience per se. But people use it and it works, thus it makes sense.
Anyway, after the panel and after some beers in a Midtown sports bar, the term in the title really hit me. Living in New York is more than just an experience of living in a big city. It is sort of a multi-screen experience all through. When I take the inbound 7-Train and close my eyes, I would find myself in a completely different sphere just a few minutes later. New York City is split up into five boroughs and into more than 50 different neighborhoods, while every neighborhood has a different feel and knows its own conventions. Any yet, it would seem that everything is well-matched and synchronized, just like the various platforms and technologies that are being utilized in the concept of Social TV. And everything makes sense at the end of the day. In the very first season of Mad Men, Bertram Cooper expressed this thought in the most sophisticated way I can imagine: “New York is a marvelous machine, filled with a mash of levers and gears and springs, like a fine watch, wound tight, always ticking.” Considering my citizenship, it would be weird if I didn’t like this allegory.