‘Entertainment Tonight’ Teams With Facebook for First-of-Its-Kind Grammys Partnership (Exclusive)

Social network will provide real-time trending data for “ET” to use during three-hour live show on POP network Sunday

Last Updated: February 5, 2015 @ 10:56 AM

“Entertainment Tonight” will be flashing a big blue thumbs up at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, executive producer Brad Bessey told TheWrap exclusively.

The entertainment news magazine show has partnered with Facebook to tap into the social activity of viewers at home during the awards program in a deal that will include real-time data from the social network, an awards show first.

It’s a step in the evolution of new media that scripted and reality programs have tested, shifting the emphasis from broadcasting to a passive audience in favor of cultivating a two-way dialogue across multiple platforms. For the Facebook-“ET” partnership, the effort includes broadcasting live from the Grammys red carpet Sunday on POP (formerly TVGN) in addition to Monday night’s regularly scheduled show, while delivering content and connecting music fans and artists through Facebook.

“’Entertainment Tonight’s’ DNA is our commitment to connect people with Hollywood and entertainment news instantly,” Bessey said. “The nightly show is no longer the fastest way to accomplish that part of our objective. ‘ET’ is a brand, you can’t separate what is ‘ET’ on television and what is ‘ET’ online and what is ‘ET’ on Facebook. It just is.”

Bessey says that while the show’s Facebook page was previously a promotional tool to promote the show, it’s now got a more meaningful role in connecting with “ET’s” audience. “It’s where a lot of our audience likes to interact with our content,” he said.

As part of the partnership, Facebook is delivering real-time data directly to “ET,” a first for the social media network during an awards show. Producers will use that information during the live broadcast Sunday to equip hosts Kevin Frazier, Nancy O’Dell, Elvis Duran and fashion expert Jeannie Mai with trending talking points.

The show has also tapped its viewers and famous faces, including Jennifer Aniston, Common, Stevie Wonder and Sam Smith, to videotape themselves asking questions to one of the nominated artists or presenters on the carpet. The questions and answers will be immediately cut into a clip and posted as native video in Facebook’s video player.

“We have Miley Cyrus asking a question of one of the stars she’s obsessed with. And I’m obsessed with the fact that she’s obsessed with this person, and I can’t wait to see what this Grammy newcomer might think about Miley Cyrus going off about how crazy she is about her,” Bessey said.

In addition, “ET” will have a Facebook photo booth on the carpet. Photos and artist videos will simultaneously be shared to “ET’s” page and Facebook’s Celebs page, which the show is taking over; and Facebook’s Music page, which “ET” will split with The Grammys.

“We’re quadrupling our reach that night,” Bessey said of the arrangement.

“ET” will also offer behind the scenes Grammy coverage on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

“We’re flying people in to be here at the war room who are master gifers, and they’re going to be gifing the biggest moments of the night,” “ET’s” director of social marketing Jackson Izzo told TheWrap. “Each platform does work in a different way. Obviously gifs work incredibly well for Tumblr and they’re starting to work well for Twitter.”

As for the notion of saving content for the show on Monday night, Bessey says that no longer factors into his conversations about Grammys coverage.

“We’re breaking down walls so that it can be a great flow of content and an overall enriched experience for the audience no matter where they’re meeting us and when they’re meeting us.”

Added Bessey, “At the end of the day when we get the numbers and we go look at how we trended here and how many impressions we had there, that is validation that we were connecting with the audience in the rich way that we had intended.”