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Channel 5 is to use Facebook as a voting platform for reality show Big Brother for the first time.

The broadcaster is working with show producer Endemol, Facebook and mobile agency Mobile Interactive Group to develop a Facebook app that lets viewers vote for the contestants they want to leave the Big Brother house, using the social network’s Credits payment system.

Viewers can purchase votes using Facebook Credits to use on either their laptops or smartphones. Channel 5, which bought the rights to broadcast Big Brother after ten years at Channel 4, is yet to determine pricing.

Channel 5 digital director James Tatam told new media age that Facebook voting represents only part of the overall social media and digital strategy for the show, which will include video footage on the show’s Facebook page, along with real-time news and video updates.

Previously it had mooted providing live 24-hour streaming via its website, but Tatam said it has shelved this idea in favour of a constant stream of video highlights, which will be available on both the main website and Facebook.

“We want a lot of the content to be on Facebook. Putting real-time news and video updates alongside the ability to vote should be really powerful,” he said.

Facebook won’t be the only voting mechanism, according to Tatam, but will be one of several on devices yet to be confirmed. It’s also in talks with YouTube to extend the use of the platform beyond video content for Big Brother. It has also launched its first Big Brother Twitter feed.

“W want to use the capabilities of the smartphone platforms we’ll be on, so if that includes in-app purchasing we’ll use that,” said Tatam, adding that Channel 5 hasn’t ruled out using SMS voting but the regulations around it are restrictive. “It’s only worth having SMS if there isn’t a better alternative on mobile. We can’t use SMS straight from screen because the regulators don’t permit it, there have been too many problems with latency and lag. So we’d only use it to purchase SMS voting bundles that enable real-time votes via mobile or online apps.”

Channel 5 is also planning to launch mobile apps for the show, which debuts in six weeks’ time, and hopes to have its iPad app for TV catch-up player Demand 5 ready to roll out in time for the show, although it hasn’t confirmed a date.

The broadcaster will provide integrated ad opportunities across Channel 5’s digital portfolios and those of its parent company Northern & Shell, a strategy Tatam is keen to extend to all the broadcaster’s ad tie-ups (nma 9 June 2011). It’s currently in talks with media agencies over the potential integrated ad opportunities around Big Brother.

Tatam said social media platforms are the channels best suited to boosting the overall TV viewing experience. “It has become clear over the last year that social media sits side by side with watching TV, more so than traditional websites ever have,” he said.

Channel 5 is the first broadcaster to establish such a tie-up with Facebook, having embedded its TV catch-up player Demand 5 on the social network as part of its syndication strategy (nma 12 August 2010). This brought its entire catalogue of long-form content, including shows such as Home and Away, The Gadget Show and The Hotel Inspector, to the social network for the first time (nma.co.uk 20 December 2010).


Published 5 July, 2011 by NMA Staff

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