Culture is future » Innovation and digital


Contribution : "Television and social web: central issue of Scandal" by Virginie Spies

Now, the success of TV shows is no longer due to TV only. They are playing an increasingly important on the web, especially on social networks. This is the case of the American TV show Scandal, one of the most innovative in terms of ownership feeling by the fans.


Scandal is an American television show created by Shonda Rhimes and distributed since April 5, 2012 on ABC (American Broadcasting Company). In France, the show has been aired from March 28, 2013 on Canal+.

Making the audience acting via social networks

The originality of the production strategy 2.0 has been, in August 2013, to ask one of the actors (Jeff Perry, who plays the Cyrius part) to retweet 10,000 times one of his messages, in order to allow the poster for the new season to be released  on-line. The many accounts tied to the show account relayed the information, the message has gone around the web, and the poster was revealed, for the delight of fans.

May we consider for that much that the fans have some kind of power over the show? Certainly not, but what is important here is the sense of belonging to a community, which producers have understood well enough.


The fans are not mere spectators

Moreover, fans of Scandal have a name. They call themselves “Gladiators”, fighting in a 2.0 arena, armed with tablet computers and smartphones.

During the summer 2013 again, the digital strategy has been to lead a campaign of recruitment via social networks. The idea is this: highlighting reasons for users to recruit among their network of people likely to join the army of Gladiator. Regularly, the production put forward reasons to join the community of fans. The Gladiators had then just to put these arguments on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks to this strategy, the Facebook community has over a million fans, which sounded like a victory for the show, but also for Gladiators, very proud to have won the challenge


Fans, a committed public


With such a digital strategy, marketing communication for TV shows grows uniformly, inexpensive, fast, controlled and internationally. Viewers become involved users, the best representatives of a brand that does not pay them; moreover, they are voluntary representatives.

Beyond recruitments, public engaged on Twitter is more likely to stay on the program and thus to enjoy it. Not only because he comments on social networks, but also because he is one of the architects of its audience. It is a double benefit for production companies that develop as ABC in the United States, more and more tools to enter into a process of dual screen.

Beyond success in terms of community on social networks, the strategy of Scandal paid. If, in the fall of 2012 for the second season, the audience was in decline, it has finally reached a record at the end of the second season, with 9.12 million viewers for the final episode. This success is the implementation of this strategy on social networks. Season 3 will return in early October in the United States, for the delight of Gladiators, but most producers.



About Virginie Spies

Virginie Spies is a senior lecturer at the University of Avignon. Semiologist and media analyst, she is the author of “Télévision, presse people : les marchands de Bonheur” (INA – De Boeck). Her current research focuses on the links between television and social networks.


Her blog :

On Twitter : @semioblog