If you’re a fan of competitive reality shows like America’s Next Top Model, waiting for the next season can be a drag. But this off-season, while the show is recording, the producers have added a fan vote component that will allow viewers to weigh in on the photo shoots that the models have taken part in. It’s also going beyond just letting fans cast a vote and leave comments by text — they’re also able to record a video to share their thoughts.
Today, and every few days throughout the shooting schedule of ANTM, a group of photos are uploaded to the web and fans are able to vote on their favorites. Fan votes will count toward the outcome of the show, with the aggregate audience becoming a “fifth judge,” along with the three regular judges and a weekly guest judge who joins the cast. And the producers will use some fan videos during the show itself, allowing a few lucky participants to actually be on TV.
The big thing for this season, though, is the addition of the video component, allowing fans to record comments and share them inline. The embeddable video widget is powered by commenting system provider Realtidbits, with the recording part supported by Tokbox’s OpenTok video platform.
Together, they’re helping to expand the social element of the show while it’s off the air. Unlike some other competitive reality shows, which are judged live, America’s Next Top Model is shot well before broadcast. By letting viewers respond with video comments, The CW can help build buzz for upcoming episodes in-between seasons.
That appears to be working, as video is creating greater engagement with viewers of the show on Facebook, at least. A typical Facebook Timeline post for the show will draw about 500 likes and 75 comments. But on voting days, there’s a dramatic increase in the number of comments. In addition to the 350 or so video comments that users leave, the show also gets about 600 likes on average, with 800 text comments.
It’s just one more example of how TV show producers are working to make their content more social, and in so doing, hopefully get more fans to watch. It’s an interesting experiment, for sure, especially as America’s Next Top Model, like some other aging competitive reality shows, faces declining ratings. We’ll see how much a social campaign that adds video and lets viewers see themselves on TV might turn things around.