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The TV Battle: Social Media Impact on Television Shows vs. Service Providers

TV with Snow

Watching the battle between Dish Network and AMC was interesting. Commercials started popping up with an ominous voice telling viewers that Mad Men and Breaking Bad are not available on Dish. While those spots still run to this day, Dish is coming out with commercials about how “The Switch to Dish is back!” That could be, but partially due to the war that was happening between DirecTV and Viacom.

Though this is somewhat old news, DirecTV and Viacom’s use of social media during the time when customers were not receiving their favorite channels such as MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and BET is still relevant. One of the best articles I found on this topic was, “DirecTV Removes Viacom Channels Amid Battle on Social Media” by mashable.com. It got everyone up to speed on the situation between the two entities, while also showcasing the reactions emitted through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

In this instance, social media was used as a way to get the upper hand. Special hashtags against DirecTV and Viacom spread like wildfire: #WhenDirecTVDrops. #DirectvHasMyBack. It reached the customers, but DirecTV and Viacom were still at war. Therefore, everyone lost—including the customers.

Then, the fight started to affect those Viacom viewers who didn’t even have DirecTV. Since some channels, such as Comedy Central, have full episodes available on their websites, some customers were simply going there to get their television fix. That caught on, again in part through social media, and those episodes were taken down. Now those who didn’t purchase cable seemed to be punished for viewing, essentially, free television.

Interaction through social media platforms has been added to the list of ways to give customers the best customer service around, and it’s great that it’s a helpful tool in that respect. Facebook and Twitter are excellent methods to send out breaking news updates, conduct crisis communications and to keep the population informed. But, is this really where the cable wars should happen? If you make a mistake or say the wrong thing, you can delete the post, but how many people are going to see it before you delete it? The damage that could be done by a poorly worded Twitter post could be astronomical.

Would you rather have had DirecTV and Viacom –or even Dish and AMC– not update you through social media on the progress of getting your channels back? Was it overkill? Was it better than visiting their sites for news? Are cable/satellite service providers not worth the money spent or the show viewing lost with options such as Netflix and Hulu that cost less and can be, at times, more reliable?

Luckily, DirecTV and Viacom reached an agreement in July and 20 million customers were able to get back to their schedules of watching The Daily Show and Single Ladies. But, keep your eyes peeled. You never know when a new hashtag, viral video or rapidly shared post will make its way to your news feed urging you to find a better solution to watching your favorite shows.

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