Last Monday, How I Met Your Mother finally showed us the Mother during the season finale of the show. After eight seasons of teases, glimpses and hints, we finally got to see who Ted’s future wife (barring any major twists next season). A few hours after the show aired (even less for those on the West Coast), they promptly posted a photo of the Mother on Facebook...setting off a barrage of complaints from viewers (almost 46,000 replies to the photo) that had DVR’ed the episode, but hadn’t watched it. Eight years of building anticipation wasted in a few seconds. By the way, I’m not showing her here just in case any of you haven’t seen the episode yet (you’re welcome).
Now, obviously, social media is nothing new and TV shows have been increasingly more active in trying to build an audience through Facebook, Twitter, etc. I watch a lot of competition shows (mostly cooking...not the “talent” shows) where contestants are eliminated each week. Being very active on social media, I know to try to avoid spoilers and posts from these shows if I haven’t watched them yet. And to the credit of most shows and channels, while they may post things about the show, they generally avoid giving any major information away. But, who’s to blame when something does get posted? Is it the show for giving away the information without taking into account DVR’s? Or is it the viewers that should be aware that there could be spoilers. I actually think it’s a little of both.
For viewers, they need to understand that shows are going to get the most mileage out of major reveals and cliffhangers that they can. With so many shows out there, not to mention the distractions of the internet and social media, they have an incredibly short window to work with. So, viewers should realize that they need to be careful because there is always the potential for spoilers to be out there.
For the shows, if they’re going to post major spoilers, they can help by at least letting people know that there’s a Spoiler Alert. Especially in the case of How I Met Your Mother, they could have very easily posted a link to the photo of the Mother instead of the photo itself. That would have given viewers the choice to look if they wanted to.
Overall, I would say to viewers that if they DVR shows and don’t want to see any spoilers, then don’t follow that particular show on social media. You can always go to their respective social media pages if you want to see what they’re posting. But, that will at least keep you from accidentally seeing major plotline spoilers. I also have to point out an article I saw the other day about a new app called Twivo (not yet available). The Twivo app was created by a 17-year-old and it prevents you from seeing spoilers on Twitter (http://mashable.com/2013/05/10/twitter-spoiler-app-twivo/). Read the article. This sounds like a really cool app!