Digital MarketingIt isn’t often that adversarial media channels come together in cross-promotion, yet that is exactly what happened this August and last summer, on NBC’s America’s Got Talent-YouTube Special.

America’s Got Talent, NBC’s summer talent series was the #1 television show in the nation last week according to Nielson. It showcased talent that “auditioned” by placing their videos on YouTube. Social media meets network television.

These strange bedfellows combined for three full hours of network television last week, with a two-hour show on Tuesday (#1 rated,) and a one-hour show on Wednesday (#5 rated). A few years ago, the thought of a show strongly based on enablement and interaction from a social network would be considered “crazy talk.”

Yet, based on the huge ratings, one can assume that the American public is more familiar with YouTube than some might have thought. As a matter of fact, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become so wildly popular that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what these entities are.

Those contestants who sent videos to YouTube had hopes of making the top 12, which included a trip to Los Angeles to appear live on the show to perform their YouTube acts on stage. Virtual reality meets actual reality. K-Mart is one of the main sponsors of the show, and has seized the opportunity, with multi-channel integrated marketing across television, online, and of course, social media marketing.

There’s a K-Mart America’s Got Talent Sweepstakes, which presents five lucky winners with an all-expense-paid trip to Los Angeles to watch the finals. There are K-Mart banner ads all over the official America’s Got Talent website, promoting the “Get the hottest looks and coolest gear” messaging for back-to-school shoppers. There’s the K-Mart America’s Got Talent for Fashion campaign, which showcases outfits from the show. There’s the 827,000 Facebook Fans of America’s Got Talent; and yes, there are so many videos from America’s Got Talent on YouTube itself that it may take you the rest of your natural life to watch them all.

Traditionally, those with a successful media channel are threatened by new media. NBC turned the tables on this ideology, by embracing the popularity of the social network, YouTube and capitalizing on YouTube’s popularity, enabling a hybrid-media presentation of content. Prior to each YouTube contestant appearing on stage, NBC ran the actual YouTube video complete with the YouTube site—player and branding in plain sight—for their national television audience.

America’s Got Talent is perceived as having a certain “cool factor” with younger audiences, older audiences who have become well acquainted with the entertainment value of watching YouTube. NBC went several steps further in their promotion of YouTube, by featuring “YouTube Stars” such as Rebecca Black who performed “Friday,” Tay Zonday, who performed “Chocolate Rain,” and Keenan Cahill, who lip-synced Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” and Nick Cannon’s “Famous.”

And YouTube heavily promotes NBC’s show, by enabling auditions via their social network, and more importantly, by featuring America’s Got Talent videos on YouTube itself. How will this all play out?

Is NBC’s public embrace of YouTube going to create a new model for cross-promotion of television shows and YouTube stars? Will social media marketing have to expand to cover and cross-promote network or cable shows? Will network and cable strive to have a larger presence on social networks such as YouTube? Will marketing professionals need to re-think strategies and tactics to deal with this new hybrid media presentation? Absolutely!

Based on the ratings success of America’s Got Talent, and especially the YouTube Special version of it, we are not far from seeing more of this cross-promotion occurring. Watch for more examples of this coming soon, perhaps CSI-Facebook, or Law & Twitter Order, or even Americans Idle on FourSquare. America’s Got Talent, and it’s on NBC and YouTube and other social networks, coming soon to a computer, tablet or smart-phone near you!

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Image from Flickr: jonson