The ABC television network has announced that three comedies premiering this fall will actually appear first online. Viewers can watch the premiere online before they will debut on the network. The comedies are The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife and Back in the Game (see trailer for The Goldbergs below). The goal is to create some excitement for the show and begin to build word-of-mouth ahead of the network premiere. Presumably, social media will be a big part of that buzz-building strategy. In general, I'm pleased to see the networks doing some innovating. As readers of this blog know, I've been critical of how the broadcast networks have stuck to an antiquated model for prime time television (fall premieres, shows on once per week, etc.). The networks do face one risk with this type of strategy though. They will have to be very mindful of what's happening on social media, but they should not overreact. Immediate Twitter reactions are not always representative of the broader audience. The creators of the shows do not want to change course dramatically without putting social media response in context. On the other hand, it is very useful information that could be used to adjust the direction of a show. In decades past, many network shows changed considerably during their first season or two. We sometimes forget that the shows did not come roaring right out of the box as we now recall them. As an example, do you remember that the Cunninghams actually had three children during the first season of Happy Days, or that the Cosby family magically added a child during the second season of The Cosby Show? Shows do change and adapt a fair amount int that first season or so. Social media and the early response to these online premieres could be helpful today in adapting shows, not simply in building buzz.