Many TV shows, especially reality or competition programs, use some form of audience response system. In the past few years, this has consisted of phone calls, text messages, and now internet communication to get the viewers sitting at home actively involved in the show. This is in an effort to encourage more people to continue watching TV for a time when services like Hulu, Netflix, and other internet streaming sites are beginning to take over. With the option to watch endless hours of programming on demand anytime for a small and insignificant fee, audience participation during live shows is a great way to make viewers feel engaged and a part of their favorite programs.
With the internet and mobile applications becoming more and more popular in recent years, it’s no surprise that television shows are moving towards online voting to get their audiences more involved. Most people who watch TV do so with a phone, tablet, or laptop close by, so online voting is more convenient now than it has ever been before. Reality shows benefit most from this type of interaction because they can show live polls during the show so viewers can see their opinions being expressed while they watch. Viewers can also have the ability to choose what might happen on a reality show, such as what the next episode will cover or whether or not a person on the show will receive a punishment or prize. Competition shows, such as American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice also benefit greatly from online voting, even more so than other forms of reality TV. These shows allow the audience to vote for their favorite participants, granting them the chance to control the fate of the people on the show. This also allows the viewers to feel more connected with the contestants, as they have to decide who to vote for and then root for their vote to win. These interactions create a deeper feeling of involvement among viewers, who will feel connected to the show and see that their actions can affect what happens. This connection keeps them coming back and allows the television programs to enjoy their continued success despite new forms of competition.
While unlimited streaming services continue to gain popularity, they will never be able to engage the audience on the same level as a live TV program that uses online voting to allow viewers to control the outcome of their favorite shows. This use of technology gets the audience more involved than ever before and creates a connection between the viewer and the television program that, for many viewers, could never be replaced by another form of programming.