What’s that # Sign Doing On My TV?

I wouldn’t label myself as a “TV Junkie”, but I do certainly watch my fair share of television.  As I watch, I have noticed a growing trend of networks using on-screen hashtags to label shows as they are airing, appearing as a faint watermark on the corner of the screen.  For those of you who don’t know what a hashtag is, it’s a # symbol followed by a word grouping to indicate a keyword or topic, mostly used on Twitter.  The question is…does the TV screen have enough real estate for hashtags?  And, are people using them as a means to engage with the brand / TV show?

The chart below is from Trendistic, a service that trends the frequency of word phrases on Twitter and how they fluctuate over time.  I used the service to map the trends of #entourage and #curb, hashtags promoted by HBO on its network for the shows Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Not surprisingly, the frequency of those hashtags reaches highs on Sundays, which is when those shows air.

What does this mean for the networks and why are they adopting this hashtag trend?

  • To start a conversation: for fans who might be watching the show live, they have an official hashtag to follow and participate in a conversation with other fans.
  • For Twitter addicts: hashtags can serve as a reminder that a particular show or event is on TV and they should tune in to see what all the chatter is about, especially when they see their friends tweeting those hashtags or see the phrase trending.

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TV networks certainly use these hashtags to increase audience engagement, they want people to join in on the conversation and be able to follow that conversation.  The other key reason for using these hashtags and starting conversations is the hope that people tune into live TV.  The DVR has allowed this generation of TV viewers to watch shows later and give them the ability to fast forward through the commercials.  Getting people to tune into live TV increases the likelihood that they will view advertising.

Have you noticed these hashtags while watching TV?  Have you followed them or used them on Twitter?  Feel free to comment and we’ll start our own little conversation, sans hashtags.