PBS appears to be pushing the boundaries of what I call the social viewing trend by premiering a new documentary titled Earth Days on Facebook (New York Times, 3/15/10) in advance of its television broadcast.
By doing so, PBS is encouraging viewers to engage with each other and comment on the documentary itself during the April 11th social network “broadcast.”
I can’t wait until some enterprising distribution company tries this for something akin to college screenings of an upcoming movie. Limit the viewing to, say, 500 invites and plan the online broadcast for two weeks prior to some actual on-campus screenings. The Facebook streaming builds awareness and anticipation but the limited number gives it the air of exclusivity. Those that get in are sure to have friends watching it with them, but that’s alright since you’re still not talking more than 500 locations. Then they can spread the word in advance of the on-campus presentation.