Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga
There's been a lot of buzz around who's going to get the Tonight Show, and while I don't even watch late night TV, I found a concept on one of Time's Blogs interesting. They say that one of the reasons the debate exists is because Conan O'Brien's fan base is younger, online, and tweeting like crazy, whereas Leno's fans are older, and far less rabid.
Obviously, how we place value on a vocal minority has a lot more social implications than just who gets the Tonight show. And for this posting I'm going leave aside the rabid right, and the wacky left in politics -- but keep the 2008 election in mind with Obama in the Conan role and McCain in the Leno…
What we're seeing is the evolution of fandom: you don't have to wait for the Neilsen's to tabulate numbers, and even when you do, they're often way out of whack from the buzz being generated online, keeping in mind that that buzz might be controlled by a handful of rabid fans and that the actual audience may have a very different opinion.
But the question that still remains in my mind is if that vocal minority is a better target for advertisers than the lackadaisical 'I'll watch what's on' crowd -- active fans can be active consumers, but passive viewers may be better targets for traditional advertising.
We probably won't know how traditional broadcast advertising fits with mobilized social media fans until TV as we know it goes away entirely -- which judging by this battle, may be happening really soon.