Random Acts of Progress

The Future of Social TV and Television


The Future of Social TV and Television

Social TV Activity Today

  • The number of television and Social TV viewers using ubiquitous second screens (laptops, smartphones and tabs) to interact with television is at an all time high. HBO Connect is perhaps the most innovative second screen application to date.
  • Sales of Smart TV sets (Social TV sets really), outfitted with easily accesed social networks and social applications, are rising sharply.
  • Game consoles like Xbox and PlayStation can access social networks and feature their own Xbox and Playstation social networks as well.
  • We’re starting to see Pay-TV Platform Operators newer STBs (Set Top Boxes) outfitted with social networks and social applications that essentially turn them into Social TV STBs.
  • And then there’s the assortment of boxes like Boxee and other STBs that connect to the Internet, social networks and social applications through TVs.

All of the above is making Social TV readily accessible to users/viewers today and dramatically reshaping our behavior patterns around watching traditional TV. What we watch, how we watch it, how we’re influenced by advertising and product placement, how we influence our friends around consumption of content and ads; all of this is dramatically impacting TV as we know it.

Social TV Drivers

The TV and Pay-TV Advertising market is currently worth over US$400 Billion worldwide. And TV Broadcasters/Networks as well as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and many other social networks, and the Internet TV crowd including Google, Apple and Microsoft — are all going after it via Social TV It’s also quite possible that some social networks will ultimately morph into Social TV channels. In fact, Facebook has grown so large that it currently has a user base in every top TV Broadcast market that’s larger than the top Broadcasters have in those same markets.

Big brands are driving enormous interest in brands and sales of products by combining TV advertising with social marketing. For example, the USA Today/Facebook Super Bowl Admeter was a new web and mobile experience that went live on USA Today’s website as well as Facebook Brand Pages during Super Bowl 2012. It allowed Facebook users to view, rate and share Super Bowl commercials throughout and after the game, on the web or via their mobile devices. There were just under a billion earned impressions generated during the 91 Super Bowl Commercials. Thats a lot of social activity. To note, the underlying application for Admeter was built on the Involver platform.

“Social media has made TV a social experience again. We’re very interested in facilitating conversation − tapping into the power of social conversations across different programs to give viewers the power to connect with each other and build our relationships with our fans.”
-Gayle Weiswasser, VP, Social Media Communications, Discovery Communications

Weiswasser is right about the social experience. But it’s a much different social experience that favors the (somewhat) time-shifted communications of tweeting, posting and email conversations over live face-to-face socializing with friends and family in front of the traditional TV set. So, Social TV is a different flavor of social in that sense. Perhaps more social in quantity and less social in quality is one way of looking at Social TV. Of course, you also have more opportunities to be social with Social TV.

“The future isn’t either traditional or digital: it’s a feedback loop between the two. Television fans want to get involved and be counted. It’s how creative we are in engaging those fans – and keeping them connected even as they may move away from the traditional network – that will determine how potent and profitable we will be in the future.” -Kevin Reilly, President of Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting

“The rise in the number of people that discover our content via social networks like Facebook and Twitter is significant.” -Philip Bourchier O’Ferrall, SVP, Viacom

Reilly and Bouchier nailed it. But at least for the foreseeable future, Social TV will be a work in progress of traditional TV and Social formats forever seeking a path to the ultimate integrated design.

Motivation to Advance Social TV

Social Brands are using social metrics (an order-of-magnitude better than TV metrics) and clearly see how and why their social channel activity adds value to their TV advertising activity (and vice-versa) and, in-fact, helps their TV advertising buy strategy. [Stay tuned for one of our next articles that dives into social metrics — volume, conversation, sentiment, and more — as it relates to Social TV.] And the value goes way beyond this. Think of the benefit to the producers of content — they’re able to understand what shows, scenes, actors, and just about anything else you can think of, works or doesn’t work, essentially in real-time. So, Social TV is good for all stakeholders and to the extent that Social Brands can get more value out of their TV advertising dollars, they will potentially invest even more in advertising which will help drive the growth of Social TV.

TV used to be all about eyeballs. But Mass Media, once dominated by Broadcast Media, is no longer the domain that it once was. It’s been invaded by New Media and Social Media. In the process, maybe unexpectedly, TV has become even more massive and is now supported by viable, growing social communities built around shows, brands, broadcasters, social networks, and other industry participants. So, the future of TV will still be about eyeballs — but Social TV eyeballs. And the future of Social TV will be advanced and shaped by all industry stakeholders that are focused on that.

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