In today’s increasingly interactive media landscape the way an audience consumes a typical television program is in a period of constant and rapid evolution. Binge watching shows on streaming services like Netflix or downloading the torrent files off various well known websites and saving them for viewing later is leaving a large chunk of the modern television audience not watching programmed television, or a television set at all. In 2014 Comedy Central launched a program that not only embraced the interactive element of social media, primarily Twitter, but has managed to bring back live viewers back to their TV screens.
@Midnight debuted on Comedy Central in the states and Comedy Network in Canada before moving to Much after they dropped the “Music”. Popular comedian, Nerdist podcaster, and a man who seems to be perpetually hosting a show; Chris Hardwick helms the late-night comedy gameshow Monday to Thursday in the time slot it shares its name with. The show features a panel of 3 comedians, social media personalities, celebrities, etc that compete in internet/social media based games where their jokes are worth “Points!”.
Much like Who’s Line is it Anyways? the game is made up and the points don’t matter. The show has amassed a large and loyal interactive fan base over the past 2 years with a nightly “#HashtagWars” game that quickly becomes a trending topic on Twitter every day.
Creating a simple writing prompt such as #AddSportsRuinAShow or #PresidentialMovies for Twitter users, viewers respond with tweeted jokes such as “How To Get Away With Murder: OJ Simpson” or “Oval Office Space”. The show then picks a Top 10 and posts it the next day before choosing one favourite tweet to show on screen during the following episode. That potential for a 5-second “15 Minutes of Fame” has proved a genius move for the program that has led to a religious following of aspiring comedians and twitter users looking for the retweets and likes that come with live-tweeting a TV show based on getting retweets and likes. As an avid viewer of @Midnight, or should I say participant, I’ve come close to getting that 5-seconds of fame myself. Just cracking the Top 10 with the tweet at the bottom of the screenshot of @Midnight‘s Tumblr account, this is sadly closer to the top of my Top 10 public accomplishments.
@Midnight has created such a unique social media experience that it was honoured with the Outstanding Social TV Experience Primetime Emmy Award in 2014 and has continued to change the TV landscape. In 2015 @Midnight held the #PointsMe competition that encouraged people to tweet their best jokes and participate in the show’s games while hashtagging their tweets #PointsMe. After a period of a few months amateur comedian Chris Cubas was chosen and he actually became an on-show contestant alongside the professional entertainers for an episode. Since his exposure as an amateur comedian on a comedy channel with an avid online following, his comedy career and online presence has been steadily growing and has been brought back as a contestant on the show since. People are not only watching the show religiously to participate in the online community it has created, the program has viewers actively trying to get on the show every night.
The second #PointsMe contest is currently in its final stages and a new audience member will have the ultimate television experience possible and be on the show itself.
@Midnight can be seen on MUCH (It will always be Much Music to me) Mon-Thurs at ..Midnight