In October, @midnight host Chris Hardwick and friends led a 24-hour Periscope reading of Moby-Dick. It was a feat of endurance, to be sure, but also an experiment in engagement.
And last night in Austin, Texas, on the first night of SXSW, @midnight became the first late-night show to stream an entire episode on Periscope.
The Twitter-based livestreaming app has been used for more mundane activities, but as alternate channel for TV-watching, it’s a natural extension of live-tweeting. “@midnight always had a huge fanbase on Twitter [with its segment] Hashtag Wars,” said Walter Levitt, Comedy Central’s chief marketing officer—so it was a natural transition. The @midnight account has more than 85,000 followers and over a million hearts. Hardwick is very active there too.
Friday night at the Parish, the Hashtag Wars segment got very interactive, as liberally soused fans joined Hardwick and comedians Arden Myrin, Chris Cubas, and Doug Benson to vie for points. There was more than one instance of on-stage vaping after Cubas offered Myrin his vape pen, but that was only after she joked about masturbating with it.
In addition to engagement—the show’s stream was full at one point—Periscope offers broadcasters more illuminating metrics, including retention, total viewers, time watched, and duration, and it could change how broadcasters communicate with audiences.
This post has been updated for clarity.
Photo by Mark Davis/Comedy Central