will premier his newest show first to his 16 million fans on Facebook and then only later on the old-fashioned boob-tube.Is a post-TV future becoming easier to imagine, because of the Internet? That's one question raised by the news that SpongeBob SquarePants, the undersea mega-star of stage and screen,
On Thursday January 27th, SpongeBob (or his people) will post a five episode anthology of episodes to his Facebook page, facebook.com/spongebob. The content will be simulcast on Nickelodeon's mobile platform. Facebook is the perfect place to broadcast new content to a large audience, considering its combination of market penetration, dizzying time-on-site, the newsfeed subscription model and the social notifications upon each subscription.
It may, however, be premature to see friending SpongeBob as a blow against the old media TV world of the past. Another part of the launch campaign is a series of six online games, where players navigate Bob and his friends through a series of adventures in search of clues that will allow them to proceed from one to the next. To access the sixth and final game, players must enter a code available only on-air during an hour-long TV special Jan. 28. That, and the differences in content to be posted online vs. TV, indicate that for all its bluster, the online efforts are still really about promoting TV viewership.
That is, after all, where the advertising money is still found - despite (or perhaps because of?) the rich demographic information that would show exactly who is watching SpongeBob on Facebook.
Right: SpongeBob on Twitter doesn't even own his own name, has a mere 70k followers and hasn't mentioned this silly old Facebook thing at all yet.
More likely than post-TV, the short term future seems to be one in which the Internet can breath new life into TV. An even better example may the show Glee, which is not only hotly discussed on Twitter during broadcast but even includes characters Tweeting from inside the show itself. We wrote earlier this week that such trans-media efforts could help save TV, and its advertisers, from the time-shifting and ad-skipping they have grown so worried about.
Numbers-savvy readers will note that Bob is now less than 1 million fans behind singing starlet Katy Perry, who visited Facebook headquarters for a photo-op and some biz dev yesterday. May the Facebook staff be so lucky as to get a visit from SpongeBob soon, too. If Facebook got a Katy Perry visit this week and Twitter got a visit from Snoop Dogg, perhaps it will be MySpace that gets the SpongeBob visit. I think that would be my preference if I could choose one of these people to meet.