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Summary:

When the premiere episode of this season’s Survivor begins airing tonight on CBS, host Jeff Probst will not only be tweeting during the show, but he will also be answering viewer questions on short video messaging service Tout during commercial breaks.

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For years, Survivor host Jeff Probst has used the Internet as a way to reach fans and give more context into what happens behind the scenes of the show. Probst started with blog posts, then stepped up his presence by live-tweeting during broadcasts of Survivor last season. In his latest social media effort, Probst is turning to short video messaging service Tout as a way to answer viewer questions and provide additional insight into what’s on the show.

When the premiere episode of this season’s Survivor begins airing tonight at 8:00 p.m. EDT/7:00 p.m. CDT on CBS, Probst will be tweeting again during the show, but announced that he also plans to answer viewer questions on his Tout page during commercial breaks. Probst first announced his plans to use the video service over the weekend, and has recorded a few promotional clips ahead of the premiere.

“Video is the next phase in the evolution of how we communicate online. The web has gone from text to image and now to video,” Probst wrote in an email explaining why he decided to start using video during episodes. “Touting during Survivor is a great way to experiment. It connects me with Survivor fans, engages them more in the show and paves the way for what I hope will ultimately become a global conversation.”

Probst wrote that he was first introduced to the service through a friend at Harvard and was impressed by the speed with which he could begin sharing video messages with fans. In addition, he liked that the service wasn’t just available on mobile devices, but also on the web, where anyone could view the video messages.

“I checked it out, saw the ease of the iPhone app and I was literally touting within three minutes,” Probst wrote. “I do feel that this is going to be the next wave and I’m excited to be an early adapter. [sic] I hope Survivor fans take to it and join me for the ride.”

Adoption of Tout is just a continuation of Probst’s experimentation with various ways of reaching the Survivor audience and driving viewers to tune in live. And he counts his most recent experiment — live tweeting during airings of the show — as a success.

According to Probst, his number of followers increased by about 400 percent over the course of the season and “the weekly response was so strong that CBS began putting a banner at the top of each episode with my hash tag #jeffprobst.” Based on Survivor‘s success, CBS also did a “tweet week” during which viewers could interact live with stars from the network’s shows on Twitter.

For Probst, using blogs, Twitter and Tout is all about adding more value to the viewer as a way to help drive tune-in to the live airing. “It’s all about giving the viewer more reasons to watch live,” he wrote. “This season I’ll be doing my best to answer fans questions during the commercial breaks. Everything I’m doing is part of an on-going experiment. I’ll adjust as I go along.”

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