Johnny Carson didn't tweet.
But if the pioneering talk-show host were starting out today, he most certainly would. Armed with the ever-evolving digital world around us, producers have the opportunity to alter the course of television dramatically—and they are doing so with an army of "digital native" talent.
Increasing interactivity with viewers gives producers the opportunity for instant feedback on their work and to facilitate a kind of 24-hour water-cooler conversation while shows are off-air. On game and talk shows, a new breed of hosts is applying a digital gloss to on-air personas.
Take Andy Cohen, for example. The host of Bravo's interactive talk show Watch What Happens Live! regularly stokes his 1.1 million Twitter followers with tasty backstage tidbits and pics.
Soon enough, we'll have to stop talking about a second-screen experience and instead consider a third, fourth, and even fifth screen.
"You're seeing the next generation of people coming through; they have grown up with digital," says Michael Davies, president and CEO of Embassy Row, a production company that's a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Television. "I think that's going to represent a change."