Agents are increasingly looking to harness social media as multi-screen viewing grows.

As social media’s reach extends, talent agencies are increasingly looking to harness its potential.

“Talent needs to produce great content for the social web as for many people Twitter is the first screen,” said Eric Kuhn, UTA’s head of social media.

Kuhn, Hollywood’s first social media agent, was speaking on an Abu Dhabi Media Summit panel about the growth of multi-screen viewing.

Citing the example of ABC’s Scandal, when many cast live tweeted during broadcast, Kuhn said that creatives and talent are increasingly being asked to engage their audiences.

“Writers, directors, producers and actors often tweet along with their shows, which raises the profile of the show and creates an experience with the show for their fans on second screens,” he said.

Facebook-Twitter battle

Kuhn highlighted the battle between Facebook and Twitter in the US to get talent on their platforms not only to use and engage with it, but to create content on it.

“There is a great war happening now - at least we see it in Hollywood - between Twitter and Facebook to get the talent on and engaged by using it,” he said.

Agents also increasingly see online followers as an opportunity for contract leverage, said Kuhn.

“As agents who negotiate deals and contracts on behalf of our talent we are measuring the impact of tweets,” he revealed.

“For example, if a client’s tweet gets more buzz than a Superbowl advert how is the client being compensated for that? We’re trying to figure out how huge audiences should be used for this.”

Tweaking scripts

The former CNN social media executive also pointed out that writers’ rooms are now listening to what is being said on Twitter and are in certain cases tweaking scripts accordingly.

On the same panel, Samantha Barry, social media producer for BBC World News explained the importance of using different social media for different functions but stressed the need to be across all platforms.

“Twitter is really useful for breaking news but if you want to look at a topic – for example on Iran’s nuclear policy – we use Facebook as it creates more discussion,” she said.

Shift to second/third screens

Antonios Kyrkos, principal, McKinsey & Co pointed to recent research that found a very significant shift in the US and Western Europe of viewers moving away from classic linear TV, which is losing 20% of viewing minutes to second or third screens on tablets or PCS.

Kyrkos added that two-thirds of minutes viewed on second screens also happens when the TV is on, indicating that non-traditional viewers combine linear and non-linear TV as part of their viewing experience.

However, Nart Bouran, head of Sky News Arabia cautioned that in the Middle East region TV revenues are still king.

“We still produce most revenue from the first screen in this region, then from the other screens,” he said.

“Those other screens are all about creating awareness around your brand. It’s an effective tool but we still make most money from spots.”

Audience measurement

In a later panel, Brendan Ogilvy, region managing director, MEA, Effective Measure and Chris O’Hearn, general manager, Emirates Media Measurement Company discussed audience measurement in the Middle East.

O’Hearn said that his company was creating an effective ratings system for the UAE for the first time which would have a dramatic effect on the market.

“There has not been a measurement system run in this region until now, but this system will allow us to measure what the audience is watching and what ads they are watching,” he said.

Oglivy focused on online measurement of viewing habits – by measuring interactions on 1,000 websites in the region – saying it would bring “transparency and information about the audience” to companies