Armchair Critics Rule! Event Viewing & TV Gone Social

There was a time when being a TV critic was almost like being one of the celebrities that they were paid to write about. They were wined and dined by talent agents and publicists; private screenings were arranged exclusively for their benefit; and the TV-watching public waited for their word before deciding whether it was worth tuning in to a new drama series or sitcom.

While those Hollywood lunches and private screenings may still take place, these days it’s more about going through the motions than shaping public opinion. That’s not because the public has lost interest in TV; quite the opposite. The problem is that thanks to social media -- and particularly Twitter -- everyone is a critic, and that exclusive club is not quite so exclusive any more.

Take this year’s Oscars as an example. If you wanted to know whether Seth McFarlane’s debut as host of the annual award ceremonies was a success or not, you didn’t have to wait for the morning papers. All you had to do was log on to Twitter, follow #Oscars2013, and you could see exactly what people thought of his repertoire of edgy jokes and throwback cabaret numbers.

It was a similar scene for the Super Bowl. While football fans concentrated on the game, the rest of the world settled in to critique the main event: Beyoncé’s halftime show. It took only a few seconds of her performance to know that while the power outage might dominate the next morning’s headlines, opinion on Beyoncé’s outfit would not be far behind.

The influence of Twitter has now become so great that the official critics have started hedging their bets. Now, it’s no longer enough to offer their own opinions, but they also have to report on the opinions of the masses. It’s easy to imagine a deadline-pressured TV critic sitting at home with one eye on a flat screen TV and the other on the Twitter stream unfolding on his iPad.

So important are these new armchair critics that many TV moguls now pay as much attention to social media commentary as they do to ratings. In the old days, a new show may debut quietly and pick up steam as positive word of mouth reviews slowly built a following. Now, that word of mouth comes via Twitter, and it had better be positive from the start.

So, if you have always wanted to be a TV critic, now is the time. With FiOS TV and Internet you can watch the action and join in the discussion at the same time. And don’t hold back – your opinion has never been more valuable!

The views expressed and materials presented herein represent the personal views of the writer and do not represent the opinion of Verizon or its subsidiaries. Monica Vila is Founder and "Chief Technology Mom" at theonlinemom.com. Follow her on Twitter @TheOnlineMom!