On December 3rd, 2009 MTV introduced the world to a new reality sensation, the Jersey Shore. For better or worse, Snooki, The Situation, J-WOWW, DJ Pauly D, Angelina, Ronnie, Sammi and Vinny entered homes across America and within weeks got us hooked on their dirty, somewhat raunchy, hilarious and always inappropriate antics. Almost two years later, #Jersdays (as coined by Snooki) is still going strong and the Season 4 premiere broke both ratings records (bringing in 8.8 million viewers, up from the 8.5 million that tuned in for the season three premiere) and social media records for tweets captured in a one-day period of a TV series. According to SocialGuide, more than 190,892 unique viewers chimed in with comments – totaling close to 300,000 comments about the Shore cast as they headed oversees to revisit their Italian roots for the season.
Building on the social success of the show, MTV recently launched WatchWith app for iPhone, a co-viewing second screen experience that delivers content to fans connecting them with the stars of their favorite MTV shows – including the socially savvy #GTL cast, and curating the social conversation on Twitter and Facebook. The app, which is free using iTunes, displays content as a stream and gives preference to the user’s friends and followers, showing their comments at the top. Unlike other second screen experiences that serve as a supplement to real-time TV, WatchWith also functions as a “social DVR.” Viewers can follow the steady stream of content associated with the episode whether they are tuning in as it happens or catching up on a rerun.
In an interview regarding the app with DIGIDAY daily editor, Mike Shields, MTV GM of Digital, Kristin Franks said, “Our viewers are true digital natives. We started early on Twitter in 2007. We’re on Tumblr. We have to tap into the social nature of our shows. And we’re constantly trying to create incremental experiences. With WatchWith, we asked ourselves, ‘how do we capture our great story arcs to serve as tentpoles that extend across platforms?”
But the Jersey Shore influence doesn’t stop with record-breaking social stats and co-viewing iPhone apps. The fist-pumping crew continued to show us just how powerful they are when what appeared to be a bizarre publicity stunt by Abercrombie & Fitch last week totally backfired. The clothing retailer released a statement offering a substantial payment to Mike Sorrentino AKA “The Situation” and the rest of the cast to stop wearing the A&F brand on-air. An Abercrombie & Fitch spokesperson said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned that Mr. Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We understand that the show is for entertainment purposes, but believe this association is contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand, and may be distressing to many of our fans. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.” Unfortunately for Abercrombie, according to CNN its stock fell nearly 10 percent at one point the day after making the statement and finished nearly 8 percent lower for the day.
Regardless of the A&F outcry, the cast of Jersey Shore remains on top both online and off. The new WatchWith app is just the next step getting the ins and outs with the cast of the show that America has fallen in love with (whether they want to admit it or not). While the cast of Jersey Shore sometimes causes us to turn away from our TV screens in disbelief, they have truly taken social media by storm and continue to pave the way for the future of reality TV.