Social TV Week in Review: What is Social TV? (And The New Terms of Service)

Back in May I went to DigitalFlashNYC’s Internet Week event “Social TV – What’s Really Happening?” The colorful Sabrina Caluori, VP Social Media, HBO, eloquently summarized her thoughts on the subject at hand: “Social TV is bullshit”. It was a calculated declaration, echoing the opinions of many experts who complain that TV is, and has always been, fundamentally social.

Does Social TV exist as something more than a redundancy? What’s in it for viewers, and what’s at stake for the industry? I address these questions in brief below:

What is Social TV?

Internet access and device proliferation are on the rise, moving forward in tandem with the next generation’s social media dependency and 360° entertainment demands. Semantics aside, ‘Social TV’ simply gives us a way to talk about new TV watching behaviors and the technologies that power them.

What does it mean for the viewer?

Your voice counts: Social media channels have amplified the voices of millions of TV viewers and delivered their feedback to content producers and show talent instantaneously. Additionally, the ability to build or join online communities around shows is getting easier and the experience is more rewarding than ever. Strong communities act collectively as brand advocates. In several high profile cases (Community, Fringe), fans have organized to bring programs back from the brink of extinction.

What does it mean for the industry?

Big data: When millions of viewers access TV through social media channels they leave behind a trail of data. Of the many byproducts of Social TV, Big Data are one most promising. TV brands and advertisers can use social data to develop campaigns and strategies. They can use data to personalize content and make it more relevant. Networks are using the data to complement ratings and help sell ad time. Entire businesses are emerging from second screen services, to ad sync programs, to analytics and SRM platforms.

New Terms of Service

Social TV is just one aspect of a changing television environment. Views are interacting with and consuming TV in new ways and starting to look for content on their own terms.

What does it mean for the viewer?

More control: Viewer’s have more ways to access content than ever before. My own TV diet is a balanced regimen of TV, DVR, Streaming, Netflix and Hulu. I’ll flip open my laptop as readily as I reach for the remote. For the first time, viewers can create their own pay-as-you-go packages for TV. They can hack together their own anytime, anywhere bundle. While these experiences may not be flawless (currently), they continue to improve.

What does it mean for the industry?

Consumers are no longer entirely dependent on the traditional providers.  Recent disputes between cable operators and media holding companies (AMC vs. Dish, Viacom vs. DirecTV) had consumers caught in the middle, cut off to programs that they want or expect their bill to cover. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Amazon are some of the big names aiming to deliver original, high quality content through new channels that could side step costly arrangements which leave consumers out.

Cable operators, networks, advertisers, producers, hardware/software companies and everyone else who has a stake in the TV industry is rightfully concerned with how today’s viewers are watching television. PEW, IHS Screen Digest, Futurescape, IAB are among the most recent organizations to release their findings on Social TV and viewing habits (for full articles and findings see below). Whether audiences are undermining business models or creating the opportunity to build new ones, the industry must know how to react accordingly.

Follow the jump for the top Social TV News from around the web.

DirecTV and Viacom Settle Dispute Over Fees, Restoring Service via The New York Times

By Tuesday, Viacom had restored some of the streams, including Monday night’s “Daily Show.” But by then the company had demonstrated that online access to shows was not a given. (Another programmer, AMC Networks, coincidentally showed a very different way to use the Web to its advantage last week. Amid a continuing blackout in the homes of one of DirecTV’s competitors, Dish Network, AMC decided to stream the season premiere of its hit show “Breaking Bad” free, sidestepping the blackout altogether. AMC said it wanted to give Dish subscribers “an extra week to switch providers so they can enjoy the rest of the season.”)

IHS: ‘The STB is finished…’ via Advanced Television

In 2015, 49 per cent—of all devices obtaining television services from 43 of the largest global pay-TV operators with multiscreen services—will be PCs, smartphones, tablets and other so-called multiscreen devices, up from just 18 per cent in 2011, according to the IHS Screen Digest. Meanwhile, STBs will decline to just 51 per cent of pay-TV operator devices in 2015, down from 82 percent in 2011, as presented in the figure attached…multiscreen devices will supplant STBs as the leading pay-TV access devices by 2016.”…PCs in 2011 were the most common devices associated with multiscreen pay-TV deployments. In second place were devices based on Apple Inc.’s iOS operating system…By 2015, 11 pay-TV operators will be supporting content and subscribers on more multiscreen devices than on their own set-top boxes…For example, Bell Canada, which has a very strong strategy for delivery of services to its mobile subscribers, will be supporting almost eight times as many phones and tablets in 2015 than STBs.

Zeebox releases its latest consumer survey data for anyone to analyse via The Guardian

For example, Ofcom says 11% of UK households now own tablets, while Zeebox says 9%. Ofcom pegs UK smartphone penetration at 39%, but it’s 59% for Zeebox’s respondents – perhaps not surprising for an online survey.

Médiamétrie: TV sees “new generation of viewers” as “opportunity, not a threat” via MIP Blog

Each French home today has an average of 6.2 screens, a marked increase in recent years; and 3 million homes (10.7% of all French homes) own smart TVs …“Channels now see the internet as an opportunity rather than a threat,” affirmed Cassi, citing the example of how some US series now launched online (eg. via Hulu) before they are aired on traditional TV.

How Big Data will fuel a new age of TV via VentureBeat

As the TV industry evolves from a traditional broadcast experience to a mobile, multi-screen online environment, networks, broadcasters, and service providers will be able to leverage viewer data to create more personalized and profitable media experiences. Big Data is the key to personalizing media…With Big Data delivering the right media to the right screen at the right time, viewers become more engaged and publishers earn more digital dollars.

The End of TV and the Death of the Cable Bundle via The Atlantic

Every year, 100 million homes pay for a bundle of cable channels. Like any bundle, it’s hard to see exactly what they are paying for. That is somewhat the point of bundling — to disguise the true cost of the constituent items. If you watch ESPN and 17 other channels regularly for four hours a day, you are probably getting a good deal. And that means that millions of other people are getting a “bad deal” on their cable and are subsidizing your TV experience.

‘Are You Still Watching Cable TV?’ via WSJ

Have you canceled your cable or satellite TV subscription? If so, are you watching less television? Or are you finding what you want through the Internet?

Is Second Screen a fad or the growing slope of a demographic mountain? via Thoughts on the Digital Video Space

While we are currently astounded by the stats in the industry (80%+ using second screens, 30%+ engaging in content related to the 1st screen, etc), these stats are going to continue to grow as the generation Y and generation M (Millennial) grow up and get their own smart phones and tablets.

Multi-Screening encourages more tv and ad viewing via Video Net

“Multi-screening is a huge benefit and opportunity for TV advertisers. It encourages people to watch more TV and more ad breaks and does not adversely affect ad recognition, and viewers now have the ability to act on what they see immediately. We have always multi-tasked in front of the TV but two-screening is an incredibly complementary accompaniment.”

Better than bonus material? What Second Screen could do for title sell-thru via Thoughts on the Digital Video Space

 Then last week Marvel (owned by Disney) arrived on the scene with the first 2nd Screen application designed to promote the Blu-ray sale before it is released.  The Avengers Blu-ray won’t release for sale until the 25th of September (5 weeks from now), but if you download the app now, you can see some of the character files (Captain America, Black Widow) and play one game, but over time, as you keep coming back (each week presumably), more content is unlocked for you to review.

Half watching TV, fully tuned into social media via Financial Review

These viewers are no longer satisfied to sit and idly watch a big screen, but now rest an iPad next to the popcorn in their laps, surf the net, shop, browse Facebook and Tweet about shows they are half watching. Deloitte says 60 per cent of viewers are doing this, in its State of the Media Democracy survey report based on a survey of more than 2000 Australians across four generations…“Until IPTV becomes a mainstream reality in Australia, there is no doubt that the functionality you can offer through an app is much richer than what you can offer through a straight broadcast, so it will appeal to advertisers keen to increase their engagement with viewers over multiple platforms.”

Two-Screen Viewing Creates Connected TV Users via MediaPost

Given the switch to the phone screen during commercials, marketers may increasingly respond by offering branded content, promotions or rewards through partners social TV partners, like Shazam or Viggle to capitalize on the two-screen habit…Much of the research around two-screen viewing to date has focused on tablets, in part, because of their more media-friendly screens.

Social TV – Most Watched Does Not Necessarily Equal Most Talked About via Zocalo Group

A recent study from AdAge showed that 3rd screen users are actually more engaged with shows than users who view without the third screen.

TV Broadcasters divided over Social TV Strategy via Media Newsline

Digital media innovation research company Futurescape reveals that television broadcasters around the world are deeply divided over their strategy for Social TV. Do they partner with Facebook and Twitter? Or invest in Social TV startups and build their own platforms for more control? The key findings are published today in the fourth edition of Futurescape’s comprehensive strategy report, Social TV. The report analyses how social networks and viewer interaction around TV are radically transforming the television industry.

‘House’ Director Greg Yaitanes: Television Must Embrace Silicon Valley via The Wrap

“We should be working hand-in-hand with Google, Facebook and Twitter,” Yaitanes said. Rather than thinking of Hollywood and Silicon Valley as two separate businesses, Hollywood should recognize “we are in the same business.”…Echoing progressive marketers in the film business, he argued that Hollywood must embrace social media as a way of better engaging viewers.

Marrying social with mass appeal via Cream

A recent Nielsen study estimates that just over 90% of consumers’ value advertising across earned media above all other forms. So the obvious question for advertisers is how to marry the emotional immersion of a TV campaign reaching a broad audience with a singular ‘loud’ message, with a more personalised ongoing conversation online.

Tablets, Smartphones Drive Engagement, Ad Response via MediaPost

Consumers are more responsive to ads on tablets than smartphones, but both devices are driving high levels of engagement with advertising and media, according to a new study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau…The increased content consumption via mobile is coming at the expense of traditional media, especially on tablets. Almost a quarter (24%) of tablet owners said they’re watching less TV, and 32% said they’re reading less print news or magazines.

Designing Search and the user experience for television via Georgia Gibbs Design

…is there still value in adding a list of pre sorted genre/category options to Search screens when the viewer can enter any keyword on their own, including genre terms? …There are two initial “problems” defined; getting meaningful results in a TV search in markets with an excess of 600 channels; an enormous amount of content. Second is the balance of options; to create a positive experience by providing enough options for success but also not so many as to overwhelm either the viewer or the interface.

YouTube Becoming Increasingly Vital Platform for News [STUDY] via Mashable

Both citizens and professionals are playing a role in video creation and distribution. A little more than half (51%) came from news organizations — or, at least, bore the logos of news organizations. Thirty-nine percent of the most-viewed videos came from citizens. Five percent came from corporate and political groups, and the sources of the remaining five percent could not be identified.

Netflix Takes a Leading Role in the Future of TV via ReadWriteWeb

Viewers are turning to Netflix to watch TV, according to new data from Nielsen, and the service is poised to become a powerhouse production studio.SocialTV

TiVo to Buy Company That Tracks Shopping of TV Viewers via The New York Times

TiVo is expected to announce on Tuesday that it has acquired full ownership in TRA, a research company that has found success in recent years with a system that matches up television viewing with consumer buying habits. Tom Rogers, the president of TiVo…That metric makes it possible for advertisers to tell which networks are most effective at selling beer or cookies, and even which specific television shows are best at selling specific cars. TRA acquires this data by collecting information from 1.5 million set-top cable boxes and matching the viewers (anonymously) with information gleaned from “loyalty cards” presented at supermarkets, as well as with other measurements, like car-registration information…CBS has long fought the 50-year-old system of ad-selling on television, which is almost entirely based on the demographic performance of specific shows: success among viewers between the ages of 18 and 49 remains the gold standard of television…CBS has argued that it is more important to determine whether a show is generating sales for advertisers than whether it simply has a large group of younger people watching.

 Facebook, Twitter Compete For Social Gold At The Olympics via Fast Company

Facebook and NBC announced a partnership aimed at driving exclusive content to NBC’s Olympics Facebook page. In turn, NBC will feature conversations and data from Facebook users during its broadcasts. While no money is said to be changing hands, the agreement is designed to increase Facebook’s TV presence during the games and vice versa.

The First Second Screen Olympics: NBC goes Mobile and Social via ReadWriteWeb

On mobile devices or on the Web, users will have to register using TV Everywhere to prove they have cable subscriptions to NBC, CNBC, MCNBC and Bravo, the NBC properties that will broadcast the games.

 Survey: Heavy Use of Social Media Seen for Olympics via Broadcasting and Cable

Expectations that the 2012 London Olympics will be the first big social media Olympic Games were highlighted Monday with the release of a new survey from TechBargains.com that found 87% of respondents were planning to use social media or text friends about the Games… the survey found that 94% plan to watch the Games on TV, while 46% will watch on laptops, 39% on desktops, 31% on tablets and 27% on smartphones. About 38% plan to use a DVR to catch some of the action.

Fans Guide Entertainment Direction of Sports: Second Screen, Social Media key factors of Evolution via Chicago Tribune

“What we want to do is put tools in the hands of not only our partners, but the fans themselves to select the best television experience,” said Clark Pierce, senior veep of digital media at Fox Sports Media Group. “The fans get to pick. They get to finally determine the best way that they want to watch.”…But with media continuing to move to new platforms — with tablets, phones and computers taking the place of TV as the first screen — insiders stated that flexibility remains key.”They’re going to tell us what the second screen really is,” Pierce said of sports fans.
DirecTV’s senior director of digital entertainment Josh Snow, said that integration and standardizing between media companies would help bring a more expansive, sophisticated experience for consumers.

How the NBA Dominates Pro Sports via CNN Money

How has the National Basketball Association managed to score its highest ratings, strengthen its brand globally, and create more buzz amongst its fans than any other North American sport? In a word, technology. That is what commissioner David Stern said speaking on a panel at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colorado…But for the NBA, the digital embrace doesn’t come on a strictly technical level. He credits social media with the league’s uptick in popularity: the NBA made a concerted effort to facilitate players’ Twitter habits.

Sidecastr launches, joins competition for the second screen via LostRemote

Boston-based startup Sidecastr has recently emerged out of stealth mode, the latest second screen app to hit the social TV world.

More Social Television in China: Sina launching a web tv service today via Memeburn.com

Chinese online media giant Sina is set to expand the amount of multimedia content on its popular micro-blogging platform today with the launch of its own social television service.

Social TV Is more than just hashtags via Juice Digital

Google’s interactive TV service will soon be available outside of the USA for the first time…this could really open up a new level of engagement, as Tweeters become mini producers, and determine how the programme unfolds.

What Brands are Missing in Facebook Video via Video Insider

However, social video strategy should not start with “Likes,” but with three goals: discoverability, returning viewers and driving consumer conversations…while it’s important to include brand assets on the page as well, given the share-ability and viral nature of Facebook, branded content is currently the best means of maximizing monetization efforts.

Microsoft and NBC Complete Web Divorce via New York Times

With the changes, “we will fully own our digital businesses,” said Steve Capus, the president of NBC News. That’s because the company that controls NBC, Comcast, is acquiring Microsoft’s 50 percent stake in the joint venture that brought MSNBC.com to life in the mid-1990s — in effect, a big investment by Comcast in the news division’s future…Microsoft’s stake in the cable channel was dissolved in 2005. But NBC came to feel handcuffed by the Web arrangement; an increasing number of advertisers wanted to buy ads both on its TV newscasts and its Web sites, a strategy called cross-media sales, but it could not respond effectively because Microsoft ran the ad sales part of the business.

The Rise of the Connected Viewer via Pew Internet

Half of all adult cell phone owners now incorporate their mobile devices into their television watching experiences. These “connected viewers” used their cell phones for a wide range of activities during the 30 days preceding our April 2012 survey:

The Connected Viewer: More Than 50% Of Cellphone Owners Now Use Their Phones While Watching TV via TechCrunch

Smartphone owners, unsurprisingly, are far more likely than owners of feature phones to use their phones while watching TV. While 58% of smartphone users said they use their phones to have something to do during commercials or breaks, for example, only 17% of other cell owners said so.

The Future Of TV Is Two Screens, One Held Firmly In Your Hands via Fast Company

TV makers are adding limited apps, Net connectivity, and even streaming media powers to their newer TVs in the hope they’ll persuade you to upgrade your newish LCD for a flatter, smarter unit. They’re desperate to, given how flat this market is. But according to new research from Pew, the future of TV may actually be a little more closely aligned with the notion of a “connected TV viewer,” an important distinction.

A briefing on Social TV via Smart Insights

The really important thing is to remember the context of the TV in the home – as an entertainment device – not just another web browser.  Just because the technology allows you to pull up a web page it doesn’t mean that’s what the viewer will engage with in the middle of a TV show.  Simple, overlaid but non-invasive graphics can start the engagement, which may then continue on other devices before coming back to the TV.

GetGlue to move beyond the check-in with social TV guide via LostRemote

But the core of the update is a re-imagined social TV guide. “It’s truly a social guide because we’re able to leverage 500M data points from our community,” Iskold said, featuring real-time recommendations “based on your tastes and what your friends like as well.”

The TV tycoons you may have missed via BBC

What do you need to run a TV channel? Not much these days – get a cheap video camera and access to the internet, and you can soon be a TV tycoon, albeit on a very small scale.

WWE’s Third Hour Is Added For FULL Social Media Use? via Wrestling News Source

However, now #RawActive has been announced, many backstage believe the full 3rd hour has been added to extend a 2 hour show to include “Tout”, “Twitter” and “Youtube” mainly to show fans videos, status’ and updates.

IMDB Cranks Up its Mobile and Tablet Apps for TV – After 40 Million Download Milestone via App Market TV

Move over Getglue, Shazam, zeebox, and other leading Social TV players – Amazon-owned IMDB is charging in… adding personalization as well as social and discovery features into their ‘Second Screen’ TV App.

Arktan Introduces Language-Based Curation via Yahoo! News

Arktan, a leading provider of innovative social curation and second-screen experiences announced today that the company’s flagship product SocialStreams has been enhanced to include the ability to curate real


2 Comments on “Social TV Week in Review: What is Social TV? (And The New Terms of Service)”

  1. David, Thank you for including highlighting my article on designing search for TV here in Social TV News. You have a lot of great resources here and it’s great to be in the mix.

  2. […] Back in May I went to DigitalFlashNYC’s Internet Week event “Social TV – What’s Really Happening?” The colorful Sabrina Caluori, VP Social Media, HBO, eloquently summarized her thoughts on the subj…  […]


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