Social TV Week in Review: Escape or Engage? + Second Screening is Real + More

In an article in TechCrunch this week, Jeremy Toeman, founder of Dijit Media, declares everything that television stands for can be boiled down to escapism. Toeman claims the foundation of all Social TV technology and experiences should be built off this premise. However, a narrow definition of television as ‘escape’ ignores the possibility that it can be more than one thing to different people. More importantly, this assumption negates the possibility that TV can be something entirely different to the same people at different times.

To me, the notion of ‘escaping’ through television implies a viewer powering the TV on and powering their brain off. Escapism lends itself well to the kind of light-hearted programming that a viewer has nothing vested in and watches passively. When the stakes are high for viewers, when their emotions are heavily intertwined with the characters and content, TV is less about escape. After all, if we only cared about ‘escape’ would anyone really watch the news? The more our programs demand from us, the more we value a two way conversation.

A better approach to Social TV would take into consideration the observations by Gurbaksh Chahal, founder and CEO of RadiumOne. He identifies three key qualities of the Intelligent Web: it is open, it is social and it is real-time. Harnessing the power of these innate characteristics is a stronger starting point for building the future of Social TV.

A survey conducted by TVGuide informs us that over three quarters of people actively engaging TV through social media are doing so to prevent their shows from being canceled. Consumers are using the full power of the Internet (open, social and real-time) to meet their own ends and the providers and advertisers should make use of the same toolset to respond.

This week, Nielsen released its latest report on tablet and smartphone usage while watching television. The findings confirmed the prevalence of second screening and lent an air of official sanction to these trends. According to Nielsen, 26% of Americans are splitting their attention across multiple screens, multiple times a day. Before we get too excited, it is important to note that viewers aren’t necessarily using more screens to engage with TV content, rather viewers use extra screen space for unrelated multi-tasking (i.e. to check their email). Maybe the next second screen startup should build an app that’s half productivity tool?

Convergence Consulting Group cited more cord cutting in the year 2011 although they predict a slowing rate of turnover in 2012. That forecast may conflict with a MIPBlog white paper from IHS Screen Digest which suggests the numbers of TV’s in homes will begin to flat line, while the number of connected devices in homes will continue to grow. If the later is true perhaps cord cutting won’t slow after all.

There’s much more in this week’s Social TV recap. Follow the jump for the latest moves from Zeebox, Orange, Shazam and newcomer Jinni. Also check out cool initiatives and partnerships from: The Voice and Facebook, USA and Viggle, Fox and Activ8, Q’Viva and Yap.tv.

Defining The Television Experience In A Single Word via Tech Crunch

“…escape, that’s whole secret…Some say ‘entertainment’ but I believe that is merely a subset of escape, as an experience…when you consider a ‘typical’ 4+ hour session of watching TV in a ‘typical’ North American household, I think it’s a little beyond being entertained…Social TV mandates that users ‘pay attention’… for the benefit of chatter with other users. While this certainly does contribute to the social connection factor, which is a key attribute of the overall TV content lifecycle, it’s hard to see how this becomes sticky in the long run. Social TV needs to put less demands on a ‘real time’ interaction, and instead find ways to create community, conversation, and discovery in a more passive, asynchronous fashion…My newest golden rule of creating TV technology and experiences is this: If the product doesn’t take ‘escape’ into account in a major way, it is utterly doomed to fail.”

Companies Will Adapt to the Intelligent Web, or Die via Advertising Age

“…three key aspects of the Intelligent Web: open, social and real-time…the traditional pixel data that advertisers use to target ads becomes less relevant. For one thing, this data is static –- whereas the new Intelligent Web is about harnessing real-time and open Web data, which is dynamic and in a constant state of change.”

Social TV Survey: Fans Participate in Social TV Activity to Keep Their Shows on the Air via TVGuide

“According to a survey about social TV by TVGuide.com in partnership with the Social TV Summit, 76 percent of respondents say their main motivation for social activity — which includes posts, status updates, check-ins and comments — is to prevent their favorite show from being canceled. That figure is up from 66 percent from a year ago.”

Double Vision – Global Trends in Tablet and Smartphone Use while Watching TV via Nielsen Wire

“In the U.S., 88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device while watching TV at least once during a 30-day period. For 45 percent of tablet tapping Americans, using their device while watching TV was a daily event, with 26 percent noting simultaneous TV and tablet use several times a day. U.S. smartphone owners showed similar dual usage of TV with their phones, with 41 percent saying their use their phone at least once a day while tuned in.”

First screen first: Big event TV and social media via CNET

“…as exciting and pervasive as social media chatter about television has become, it simply reflects — and often magnifies — the enduring power of what happens on the first screen.”

Social TV data a new tool for gauging shows’ buzz via SF Gate

“These ‘social Nielsens’ can measure the buzz about a show’s characters or plots, and can give advertisers specific information about the ages, gender and location of who’s watching.”

Cord Cutting is Real: 1 Million TV Subscribers Lost to Streaming Services (Update) via The Wrap Media

“Netflix and Hulu are convincing millions of cable, satellite and telco subscribers to cut the cord and dive into video streaming. That’s the conclusion of a new report released this week by the Convergence Consulting Group, which finds that 2.65 million Americans canceled TV subscriptions between 2008-2011 in favor of lower-cost internet subscription services or video platforms…The good news for the folks at Comcast, Time Warner Cable and their ilk is that while Convergence estimates that 1 million subscribers abandoned cable, internet or telco for streaming last year, it projects that cord cutters will begin to put away the scissors in 2012.”

Liveblog & white paper: IHS Screen Digest talks connected devices & audiences via MIP Blog

“There are around 2.5 TVs per household in North America and Europe – a figure that won’t grow much in the coming years – but by 2014 there will be four devices per home that are neither TVs nor PCs: namely tablets, smartphones, games consoles and others. And these device types provide an access point into the home for content.”

3 Things Advertisers Can Expect from Social TV in 2012 via Social Times

“It looks like social TV is here to stay. Here’s what this means for advertisers. 1. Twitter and Facebook campaigns will be more interactive…2. Advertisers will have more integrated experiences with the content…3. At some point, social media will need a standard for audience measurement that’s comparable to the Nielsen ratings…The network representatives agreed that it took multiple services across many platforms to measure engagement for social TV.”

MIPCube: Will Twitter’s common language for social TV revolutionise advertising? via Red Bee Media

“…by creating a common language and constructing datasets that leverage the activity driven by broadcast television, it’s Twitter that’s building the value. These datasets provide extensive intelligence about the audience: from audience measurement to engagement, content discovery, and (crucially) advertising. Twitter is very clear that its business model is advertising and it will surely seek to exploit that data directly with advertisers.”

What you may have missed at NBCU’s Social TV Symposium via LostRemote

“I can honestly say I learned a lot about what it takes for a TV network to impress advertisers when it comes to selling social TV. When questions were asked from the audience, it was tough to get engagement from the different agency or advertising partners in the room, proving how new some of these concepts are. At the end of the day, everything is still so new and the main TV screen is so important that baby steps are probably going to make up the next few years.”

TV hackers thrill MIPCube conference, but call for more open data via The Guardian

“How do hackers hack when they have very little to hack with? That was the challenge facing a group of developers at the MIPCube conference this weekend…’The data coming out of broadcasters is shit. There is no data from your industry out there that we can actually play around with. I honestly think you should start to change that,’ he said.”

Zeebox boss says smart TV is a dumb idea via GigaOM

 Zeebox’s Anthony Rose says, “‘I think innovation will flourish here and that in the future your TV will be a beautiful but dumb hi-res panel that will play the content it is told to by your smartphone or tablet.’ … “Large producers can now create applications and experiences that audiences can use that deepen their link to the program, he said. And that could leave broadcasters becoming little more than a pipeline.”

Zeebox’s Anthony Rose on the incredible rise of this social TV app, its Android app, US launch and more via The Next Web

“We caught up with co-founder and CTO, Anthony Rose today to take stock of Zeebox’s achievements so far and look to where it’s going next…Coming to Android as soon as Monday…Heading to the US soon, more countries to follow…new features every two weeks”

Orange Fancies Itself As GetGlue, Miso Social TV Rival via paidContent

“Orange is having a run at the nascent second-screen social-TV space already occupied by the likes of GetGlue, Miso, Zeebox and Intonow. It is bringing TVCheck, its smartphone app for checking in to TV shows, from France to the UK…In France, Orange has both a popular IPTV service and a mobile network to which it could have allied TVCheck but hasn’t. Neither will the app be bundled with Orange UK handsets, Nahmani said. The idea is to ensure all comers can use it.”

Why The Future of Shazam Is TV, Not Music via Read Write Web

“Shazam is in the midst of a major pivot. Currently it earns most of its revenue off advertising from the music app. But within two years, the company told ReadWriteWeb, TV will provide the majority of Shazam’s revenue. Just how big an opportunity is TV for Shazam? According to statistics from the company, it is already outpacing both Facebook and Twitter in second screen user engagement.”

American Idol episodes are now Shazam-enabled as the company broadens its scope via The Next Web

“American Idol episodes are now Shazam-enabled, the music recognition startup announced today. The next time you watch the reality TV show, you will be able to use Shazam‘s app to find the song list in real-time.”

‘The Voice’ Now Lets You Vote on Facebook Timeline via Mashable

“Fans of NBC’s The Voice can now vote for their favorite contestants via a new app for Facebook Timeline…In November 2011, the U.S. version of The X Factor allowed viewers to vote for their favorite performer via direct messages on Twitter. Meanwhile, American Idol let viewers vote on the show’s Facebook page during season 10.”

USA Network and Viggle Team to Create SocialTV Experience for American Classic ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ via TBbytheNumbers

“USA and Viggle are using Social TV to provide entertaining and informative content during the network’s exclusive airing of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ this Saturday, April 7 at 8/7c brought to viewers by USA, the American Film Institute (AFI) and Universal Pictures. The partners are tapping into 50 years of history to create an engage-through experience during the telecast.  Fans will learn about iconic moments, celebrity recounts, exclusive photos and videos as they watch Universal’s digitally remastered and fully restored classic being broadcast nationally for the first time.”

Fox takes stake in social TV firm via Variety

“‘We’re always looking for new ways to enhance the viewing experience for our audience with rich, engaging interactive content, and we think ACTV8.me is an ideal partner to help us achieve that,'” said Bill Bradford, senior VP of digital media for Fox.”

Latino reality show Q’Viva teams with Yap.tv for second screen via LostRemote

“Yap.TV announced the show — produced by Simon Fuller — has partnered with the social TV company to power a second-screen experience. It’s billed as the “first TV show format that incorporates original, produced content on the second screen simultaneously with the first broadcast,” according to the Yap.tv press release. In exchange for Yap.tv’s technology, the show will provide “millions of dollars worth” of on-air promotion.”

The mood machine: TV and movie search engine Jinni wants to know how you’re feeling via Digital Trends

“’A lot of searches today are based on meta-tagging: genre, director, product, actor,’ says Shapir. ‘But you can’t go and search for a movie based on your mood – saying, ‘I’m in the mood for something sarcastic, funny, and about people growing up in the 1960s.’ That’s something you can do with Jinni.’…The big picture, of course, is weaving Jinni into the living room. Shapir describes it as something of a content management and recommendation service for households, where each person can log in to see what shows or movies are recommended for them – and if they want to add people to that list, the engine will take that into consideration. If just mom is watching, the results will be different than if the user indicated that mom and dad were watching.”

HBO exec: HBO GO iPad app has seen more than 6M downloads since launch via Mobile Marketer

“An HBO executive at ad:tech said the company has seen a lot of success with its iPad application, with more than six million downloads since its launch last spring…According to the executive, on many levels apps are better than Web sites. Mobile apps are lean, fast, agile, accountable and most importantly measurable.”

Reed Hastings Will Get His HBO Go as Comcast Nears Deal on Xbox via NY Times

“Comcast and HBO are close to finalizing a deal to make the HBO Go app available on Xbox, according to several people familiar with the negotiations.”

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