I wrote earlier about how subscription channels such as Netflix are changing the game in terms of how we consume drama. This week, as the final episode of ITV’s Broadchurch generated 260,000 Twitter messages, a record amount of traffic for a UK drama, I wonder how soon tweetability will become an essential element in the drama commissioning process. Certainly, a second series was announced quickly enough to cash in on the Twitter love.
The first UK drama to create a perfect storm of device ownership (aired the year the iPad was launched), demographic (Twitter users are known to be older and literate), and genre was BBC’s Sherlock. As with US Twitter-hit Homeland, a combination of tense plot and intriguing, ambivalent characters led to passionate conversations where people would tweet more than once as they debated each episode, leading up to the series denouement.
Unlike reality shows, drama audiences tend to tweet in the commercial breaks so as not to miss the action, perhaps putting BBC dramas at a slight disadvantage over commercial rivals such as Downton Abbey – another Twitter favourite. But I wonder how long it will be before writers (especially in continuing dramas) begin to factor in Tweet-points as well as end-of-part hooks. (Which may explain the squashed slug? ♯Broadchurch)
Given that Twitter’s respect for non-spoiler etiquette means that writers can safely aim for big endings with plenty of twists and double-bluffs, I predict a surfeit of cliff-hangers in 2014!