In this age where everything on television can be watched later or online there are very few shows I care about watching live. But every weekday I rush home to watch LX New York at 5:00 p.m. and join the chat. It's become a destination and every time I log in there are new chatters. It's a fascinating place to be because the producers, hosts and guest are all in the chat and it really removes the barrier that the TV screen usually creates. As a viewer you feel more engaged and involved in the show, which is great. There is nothing that's off limits to discuss and the tone is always welcoming. It's a friendly bunch of people and LX recently had a bash so everyone could finally meet. Recently, I met up with Executive Producer, Amy Rosenblum, and VP of Operations, Fabienne Anstey, to discuss the chat and how it has evolved since it was first launched.
Jordana Zizmor: How's LX doing?
Amy Rosenblum: It's doing great our numbers are up.
JZ: How did the chat start?
Fabienne Anstey: The chat was an idea that we had when we originally launched the show. We really wanted to make the show about the people who live in New York. The chat was an idea to create a place for our viewers to be able to interact with the show. We waited a bit to launch it and started it this past summer. Like anything in social media it's always an experiment to see what happens and you really have to wait for people to convert. Once we got it going though it took on a life of it's own. It's a second screen for our viewers to not only watch the show but also participate in it.
AR: In the beginning I didn't think I could do it. I come from old school daytime talk shows like Sally Jessy Raphael and Maury. Even the Today Show has someone chatting but it's not on the air. I thought the chat would ruin it at first because it was on the middle of the screen. I wanted people to really watch TV and feel the show. I've always had this personality where I wanted to get to know the audience. So for this show I go into the chat and ask people what they think of the show.
FA: The chat really blew up through trial and error. First when we started the chat we would have our celebrity guests on and people would chat with them but then they would move on. Then we would have our hosts on and they loved the hosts but they weren't engaged as much.
AR: Then Fabienne and I started to go on the chat and we would get people to engage and talk about themselves. One thing led to another and after about a month at the end of the chat when you see how many people are chatting there was 500 people. I couldn't believe that it went from something like 12 people to 500 in a month. That 500 people were watching the show and talking about it is incredible.
FA: The people in the chat aren't just saying hi but engaging. They are talking about the segments and what's going in Amy's and my life. They ask each other questions about everything.
AR: They have all become friendly
JZ: Do you think that happened because it's so personal?
FA: The chat made the show personal.
AR: It's old-fashioned television in that it's appointment viewing to be on the chat and watching the show. There is a group of people that log into the chat before the show even starts to check in and see how everyone is doing. Then there is another crowd that comes in around 5:30 after rushing home from work. It has become a family. That's why we had a party recently because we wanted to meet everyone. I love being on the chat and talking to everyone. Also, it's like an instant focus group. It's having the audience tell you what they like and don't like while the show is on the air.
FA: For Amy it's a real barometer for our viewers. Amy can really gear the show to what people like.
JZ: Are there any shows with a chat similar to the LXTV Chat?
FA: Many shows have twitter feeds and chat rooms. What makes LX New York unique is that it's live. It's all in real time so we can react to it live.
AR: It's just become so much fun, I have become friends with these people. It just makes you feel great.
JZ: What is the main age of the people in the chat?
AR: We have kids in there who are 16 talking about homework and then we have moms and 50 year olds. We have all ages of men watching. The show really attracts all ages.
FA: People really get a kick out of seeing Amy and I in the control room. It gives a real behind the scenes look at the show. People love talking to Amy and the other producers because they can have access to a behind the scenes look at the LX family. Now, Sarah and Jane are really into the chat. When they have a minute they are chatting.
AR: eventually we want to have a camera in the control room.
How did you get to LXTV?
FA: I was actually the third employee when we started LX in 2006.The history of LX is that we launched in 2006 as a broadband lifestyle network. We created two-minute clips focusing on the upscale urban lifestyle. We started creating a real estate show for WNBC called Open House. At the time it was really the first luxury real estate show on air that took off and NBC bought us in 2008. We quickly expanded to create a First Look as well, which is the show that airs after SNL We expanded that and Open House became a syndicated show. We had this chance to create an hour-long live show in the 5:00 p.m. hour.
AR: When that launched, I had recently left The Today Show. LX was looking for an executive producer so people at NBC said to call me especially since I had created the fourth hour of the Today Show.
FA: The show has really evolved from when we first started. That's why it's great that we waited to launch the chat and to have Amy be part of it and to champion it.
AR: I always love the audience and want to include them. The chat is a great opportunity to know who is watching.
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