Social TV Week In Review: Up Front, Ratings Down: Pivot or Perish – Social TV to the rescue?

Just in time for the upfronts, The New York Times reported Television ratings are down across the board. One hypothesis suggests we are witnessing a delayed fallout from a growing number of non linear viewers.  Viewers, who didn’t show up live to American Idol, weren’t there to hang around after either; as a result ratings fall together.

Lloyd Braun, former ABC Entertainment Chariman, sees a disjointed relationship between viewers and ad dollars; viewers are moving online and mobile but the money just isn’t following. Social TV may not be an absolute solution, but it could help both networks who struggle to sell their lineups and advertisers who seek to buy more effectively.

Networks should take note of the correlation between significant social engagement and higher ratings; after all, the phenomenon was first evidenced by The Nielsen Company itself. Since the services used to interact with TV are collecting more refined data about audiences than ever before, advertisers would be wise to use these platforms and facilitate social engagement.  Socially integrated strategies will win audiences and consumers alike.

The consumer receptive to social integration is obviously digitally savvy and social media hungry, but you might be surprised to know what they look like in today’s market. A new study from Nielsen reveals moms are the modern day media mavens. The company finds “moms are more than 50% more likely to say that they are spending more time with online video and Internet TV than the general online population”. Additionally moms are using tablets and smartphones to a greater degree than the rest of the population. This is precisely the kind of data that should be valued by networks and advertisers as they seek to maximize their returns. Social TV by nature is online and cross-platform.  It is perfectly aligned to catch audiences already moving in that direction.

Social TV is also uniquely positioned to revamp live television.  The sheer volume of social chatter amongst fans during airings may be enough to push their friends to tune in as well. Part of the fun about tweeting about a show is being the first to discuss it; arrive late to the party and you might not have anyone to talk to. Obviously some complain about spoilers, and while they express legitimate grievances, regulating freedom of speech on the Internet is probably not the best solution for anyone.

Discovery Communications prove at least some networks are paying attention. After seeing a 70% increase in streaming on it’s web properties, Discovery is focused on building up its online video offerings. Mobile is another area of strategic interest. According to the company, “15% of Discovery’s digital content is now consumed through a mobile device”. Now the challenge lies in developing the infrastructure to monetize mobile effectively.

A behemoth such as Discovery will take time to pivot, but doing so will be critical. Netflix is one of many catching on to the idea that they may not need to play second fiddle to traditional content providers. The company’s logic follows, “we can acquire content more cheaply through licensing shows directly rather than going through distributors who have already launched a show”. Netflix is joined by Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Hulu who all are also preparing for original content production.

The threat to traditional TV providers doesn’t end there. NimbleTV “is offering an online TV platform that allows a customer of a paid TV subscription plan to get their content streamed to them wherever they are”. The dreams of cross-platform ‘TV everywhere’ seem closer to being realized than ever before.  Yet a lesson from Aereo, a company with a similar product,  warns against incurring the legal wrath of protective broadcasters.

Navigating this new world of online content ownership and distribution was at least partially the subject of a Senate committee hearing involving industry titans: Microsoft, Amazon, Nielsen and more. GigaOM reported, “The hearing did clarify a fundamental issue about both television and broadband. The two are now intertwined, so from a regulatory perspective the fight will now be about who holds the power in terms of relationships with consumers and in terms of their relationships with content companies.”

At the moment traditional networks are the most powerful players in the room, but that alone will not guarantee their safety. Viewers will naturally gravitate to the cheapest service with the best content, available when and where they want it. Advertisers will follow. Social TV is an important ingredient in drawing audiences and keeping them entertained.

Prime-Time Ratings Bring Speculation of a Shift in Habits via NYTimes

“…overall television viewing is flat this spring, according to Nielsen research. That means viewers are using their television sets just as much this year as last year.”

Changing TV habits center stage at digital media presentation via LA Times

Former ABC Entertainment Chairman Lloyd Braun, “There’s this huge gap where the audience is spending time online and with tablets and smartphones, and the ad dollars are not commensurate with that.”

Social TV: The Virtual Water Cooler via theneil84

“The answer, social TV not only has the power to increase the ratings of a show, and make TV viewing a more engaging experience, but it opens up a floodgate of new marketing trends… This concept now allows brands to connect with their consumers via TV in a less intrusive way.”

TV viewers ramp up their tweeting via Pittsburgh Post Gazette

“Upticks in user participation show there’s something especially inviting about using social media during live, televised events… Make no mistake, a huge amount of what drives any social media stems from advertisers hoping to target users’ preferences. Every time someone “checks into” a location site such as Foursquare, or registers a ‘Like’ on Facebook, or tweets, he or she is providing companies with information.”

Where’s the Data Fit into #SocialTV Platforms and Ads? via SiliconANGLE

TweePLayer, dubbed the first DVR for social media, provides social media content associated with TV shows, advertisements, conferences, films, political events and more… Social TV is also a great marketing opportunity, providing a new way to approach potential customers and build relationships based on affinity, and the value of sharing, participation and exchange. Companies can access personal user preferences to improve television advertising. In addition, companies can determine the best strategy to approach marketing via connected TVs, use social ratings analytics tools to find and target lean-forward audiences and leverage the second screen to drive synched, deeper brand engagement.

BabyCenter® Unveils the 2012 American Media Mom: Always-On, In Control, and Changing the Rules for Marketers via Baby Center

In a joint study with Nielsen, data show moms are early adopters of the latest media formats, using multiple devices throughout the day (and night!), and leading digital media consumption as compared to the general population… Compared with the general population, moms over-index on ownership and usage of EVERY digital device, including laptops, digital cameras, DVRs, and gaming consoles. In particular, she is 38% more likely than the general population to own an Internet TV device (e.g. Apple TV, Roku), 28% more likely to use a tablet, and 38% more likely to own a smartphone… moms are more than 50% more likely to say that they are spending more time with online video and internet TV than the general online population.

Social TV Saving Live Television via Experience: The Blog

“One of the intriguing things about social media is that it is the first technological advance that really benefits TV without specifically being about TV… The desire to join the conversation is a huge way social media is driving live TV viewership. What fun is it to tweet your love, shock or disappointment in an episode days after everyone else has seen it?”

Can Social TV save US television’s prime-time slump? via Futurescape

“There is a major trend to integrate Social TV into live programming, such as American Idol and The Voice. Networks believe it can boost ratings, because people are motivated to view a show live to join in the online watercooler discussion. (Conversely, high social media activity around a show leads to spoilers being shared and deters people from catch-up viewing.)”

Talking About TV Is The New Watching TV via BUZZfeed
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/talking-about-tv-is-the-new-watching-tv

“…research heads at both NBC and CBS … both hinted that they keep track of engagement — that is, they track what people are saying about their shows. Both hinted that this info, which you could loosely refer to as a show’s engagement “score” has some value when it comes to determining whether or not to cancel a show… Ratings and straightforward reviews don’t tell enough of the story; the rest of the internet tells too much of it.”

Step Away From the Keyboard: How Live-Tweeting TV Shows Ruins Everything via Pajiba

“Next time your favorite show is on, try just sitting and watching it. The act of watching requires a kind of patience and focus that are key to the whole thing. And if you find yourself moved to say something when it’s finished, that’s great, really. Just keep the spoilers to yourself.”

Some TV is Created More Equal Than Others via LIVEdigitally

“First, we really don’t need (or want) a dedicated companion experience for every single show that airs – it’s just plain unnecessary.  But regardless of that, the experiences should think about the audience and how they want to interact.  Sports is all about real-time and stats.  Cooking shows, on the other hand, don’t need a real-time experience, but yet offering recipes, how-to, pictures, etc that can be bookmarked, archived, and viewed in the future is quite handy.”

Discovery Pushes Online Video, Mobile Efforts via MediaPost

“A particular focus is continuing to build up its online video inventory. With video streaming on its owned-and-operated Web properties up 70% in 2011, Discovery wants to capitalize on the growing demand for its online programming… A foundation for extending TV shows to the Web has been its “after-shows” … Discovery is also trying to tap into the two-screen viewing phenomenon, using tablets while watching TV… Overall, about 15% of Discovery’s digital content is now consumed through a mobile device, with mobile page views tripling in 2011. …The company is still creating the technical and sales infrastructure to monetize its mobile usage… digital is the fastest-growing segment of sales, increasing 40% last year. New data from the Interactive Advertising Bureau showed that online ad spending overall grew 22% to $31.7 billion last year, with mobile and online video among the fastest-growing areas — at 149% and 29%, respectively. Together, they accounted for almost 11% of overall online ad dollars in 2011. The $31.7 billion total edged out IAB’s estimate of $31 billion in cable TV ad spending last year.”

Netflix – commissioning for attention patterns via Storythings

From Netflix “Another way to think of originals is vertical integration; can we remove enough inefficiency from the show launch process that we can acquire content more cheaply through licensing shows directly rather than going through distributors who have already launched a show?”... “Netflix are plainly stating the difference between themselves and traditional broadcasters. Because they aren’t reliant on spot advertising, they don’t have to worry about delivering a live, synchronous attention pattern around their shows. Their subscription model means that long-term engagement is more important to them than overnights; data is more important than ratings.”

NimbleTV tries to make good on TV Everywhere’s promise via GigaOM

“NimbleTV — which is backed by Greycroft Partners and Tribeca Venture Partners as well as the Tribune Company — is offering an online TV platform that allows a customer of a paid TV subscription plan to get their content streamed to them wherever they are… Even though TV Everywhere hasn’t quite fulfilled its vision, it’s hard to believe that big cable providers will take kindly to an upstart looking to do what they haven’t been able to accomplish. But if NimbleTV can strike a deal with a satellite TV provider, that might be an opening to bring the service to consumers… NimbleTV, Aereo and Skitter, a new service that brings live TV to Roku boxes, are showing people they can deliver TV Everywhere if given a chance.”

The future of TV isn’t TV, it’s broadband. via GigaOM

“The hearing did clarify a fundamental issue about both television and broadband. The two are now intertwined, so from a regulatory perspective the fight will now be about who holds the power in terms of relationships with consumers and in terms of their relationships with content companies. On one side, we have the broadcast industry and the ISPs, which also own broadband and in many cases pay TV service access. On the other are the startups and online behemoths that want to deliver TV to the consumer when and where they want it using a variety of business models. In the middle are content creators trying to walk the line between finding an audience today and finding one tomorrow. And consumers just want to pay for exactly what they want, when they want it without spending money on superfluous channels or content.”

TV Incentive Social Media Program Gain Ground via MediaPost

“TV incentive social media programs seem to be gaining ground. In revealing some results of its social TV rewards app, ACTV8.me — which has deals with  Fox Broadcasting (for ‘New Girl’), Mark Burnett Productions, Oxygen TV, Virgin Produced — says early data shows heavy usage and rewards for viewers with ‘digital currency.'”

ACTV8.me Makes Bold Move Into Digital Currency Space By Creating Digital Wallets For Television Viewers Interacting With Television Shows via PR Newswire

“ACTV8.me is positioned to turn the mobile wallet opportunity into a huge revenue play for the TV broadcast sector.  After only two months of deployment, the early adoption behavior is remarkable. The early data shows that the app user is interacting an average of 10 times per episode and accepting over 2 offers per episode. Use and adoption are driven via providing real interactive entertainment. Over and above true interactive entertainment, the app becomes a vehicle for distribution of advertiser based digital value to smart phones and rewarding consumers for interacting with major TV shows through ACTV8’s second screen apps… To further its move into the digital mobile wallet space, ACTV8.me announced an innovative partnership with Tango Card to provide a loyalty and reward mechanism for ACTV8.me’s interactive second screen apps.”

The five Cs of connected TV via Econsultancy

“Convergenc: this emerging, hybrid ecosystem is primarily based on the convergence of online and broadcast entertainment on a television screen… Choice: challenges may no longer lie in having enough choice, but rather in keeping so much choice from becoming a burden for consumers. Companion: As social media activity has started to disrupt TV watching, many startups are capitalising on the increasing convergence of the two by launching companion apps with interactive social media features to drive engagement and TV ratings. Cord-cutting. Competition and cooperation.”

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