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Tumblr ready to rumble with Twitter for social TV dominance

Fan advocacy on the site is priceless to content creators, says Tumblr's head of media Sima Sistani.
January 23, 2015

When Netflix’s chief content officer was asked this week at NATPE which factors influence his decision to resurrect cancelled shows, he said fandom was one of them.

“The great thing about Arrested Development, which made it totally unique of any other long-ago cancelled show, is that the passion for it to come back never let up,” Ted Sarandos said during a panel discussion. “It got bigger and bigger and bigger.”

In a separate room later that day at the conference, Tumblr’s head of media Sima Sistani would also argue that a vocal community of fans can become a powerful tool in the entertainment industry, helping revive shows or keep them on air.

Sistani made the case that the Yahoo-owned blogging platform is where content creators can help nurture such a community by re-blogging fan gifs, videos, articles and drawings. A re-blog from a show’s official account, like that of Orange is the New Black (pictured) for instance, means a lot to a blogger and helps form that bond with fans, she said.

“It’s not enough for them to talk about the shows they love…they are remixing, recreating and then seeding that content across the web,” said Sistani, a former CAA agent who took on her current position last February. “As a content creator…the advocacy, the evangelizing that they’re doing on behalf of your show is priceless.”

She claimed that top posts on Tumblr circulate 15 times longer than on Twitter, which is arguably better known for driving social TV engagement, especially during live events and award shows.

According to internal numbers, Tumblr has 400 million monthly visitors, 55% of whom are under the age of 34. The difference between Tumblr and Twitter, Sistani said, is most of the social TV conversation in the blogging community about a show – 61% – happens between episodes, with the apex being an hour after broadcast.

Fans don’t have to catch a show live in order to be part of an active social community, and that episode becomes a week-long conversation rather than a trending topic for the duration of the broadcast, she argued. As well, when people post gifs of funny quotes paired with a character’s perfectly timed eye-roll for example, it can intrigue people who are not watching the show to tune in.

“People are sharing it because out of context it’s still good content,” she said.

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About The Author
Melita Kuburas is the editor of StreamDaily. You can reach her directly at press[at] or on Twitter @melitakuburas

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