Fans – those completely entranced people who tweet and share and talk about their favorite TV shows and films and books and whatever else they care intensely about – are increasingly far more valuable to networks and other content creators than just accreting big audiences, said Mary Meeker, the long-time Internet investment analyst. Meeker gave a brisk and broad-ranging rundown of major Internet trends as the opening speech at this year’s Code Conference, the rebranded confab in Palos Verdes, California for Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher’s new tech-news site Re/Code.
“Fans trump audiences,” Meeker said, crediting the observation to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who will speak tomorrow before the show closes. “An audience changes the channel when the show is over. A fan base shares, comments, creates content” when the show is done, magnifying the show’s reach and engagement with existing and potential new audiences. And the research suggests that, “when TV is combined with social interaction, there’s a nice lift for brand/purchase/advertiser recognition,” improving the impact of ads that accompany those shows.