Social TV Week in Review: Times Are A Changin’

If you’re tuned in to the TV space there are a lot of great things to watch. More and more, networks are releasing their shows early or exclusively via online platforms (The Mindy Project on Hulu, Ben and Kate on Facebook, Smash on iTunes, Suit Up on Yahoo!, Raising Hope on Twitter etc.). Á la Alan Wurtzel’s ‘billion-dollar Olympic experiment’, many are betting that the online buzz from the type A viewer will drive ratings around linear debuts. It’s an interesting new delivery model that has networks testing their limits in the digital age.

The traditional networks aren’t the only ones experimenting…

Amazon, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, even Xbox and Nintendo, are all looking to create their own content and move it across their own channels. When Netflix launched Lilly Hammer they didn’t just release a single episode premiere, they dumped the entire season online, all in one go. Companies like Netflix don’t have to play by the same rules as ad supported networks, nor do they have to mimic subscription cable services such as HBO.

It doesn’t stop at delivery…

As new players enter the space, they continue to shake up the establishment at all levels. YouTube’s director of product management, Shiva Rajaraman, suggests the 15 or 30-second spot is an anachronism of traditional TV. Branded content? Incentivized engagement? – are these the tools of the new marketer?

Apps are fanning the flames…

According to Adweek a new app called Matcha, “has already partnered with Netflix, iTunes, Hulu and Comcast’s Xfinity to provide users with access to 200,000 movie and TV titles they can elect to watch on the big screen or in some cases within the app itself”. When the networks and larger companies leave consumers wanting more, nimble start-ups rush to fill the gaps. Second screen experiences are moving beyond check-ins and sharing, to now offering discovery, recommendation, personalization and even their own original content.

For more of the latest and greatest news, keep reading!  Read the rest of this entry »

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Social TV Week In Review: The Truth Behind the Numbers

Once upon a time, there was one screen: TV. Now consumers have computers, phones and tablets to offer themselves entertainment and utility in different settings. How consumers interact with their new screens, and how this supplements or hurts the television industry, is of major import given the proportion of ad dollars that still go into TV over other media. When major firms release consumer research studies, they tend to grab headlines.

It is the headline that gets remembered. Findings are inevitably reduced to stats and stats are cherry picked for decks and boardroom presentations – they can float around for months or even years, long after being detached from the supporting body of work.

In the recent past, studies from Nielsen and Deloitte have had people talking. In April, Nielsen claimed “88 percent of tablet owners and 86 percent of smartphone owners said they used their device while watching TV”. In August, Deloitte offered a more conservative estimate, “Nearly a quarter of people (24%) use second screens while watching TV.” The numbers ‘88’ ‘86’ and ‘24’ have been freed from their original context and are now used to make the case either for or against the proliferation of second screening.

Go ahead and add ‘62’ to the mix. Ericsson ConsumerLab’s annual study says, “Sixty-two percent of consumers use social media while watching TV”.

It’s no ones fault that thorough research gets boiled down to a single stat; a one liner is simply easier to digest and faster to share.

That doesn’t mean we are free to forget that different findings are a result of different methodologies. Surveys range in sample size, geography, demographics and the time period they span.

In this case, Nielsen’s figures refer to the U.S. market, Deloitte’s to the UK. Deloitte’s survey queried 2,000 participants; Ericsson’s drew from 12,000. When Nielsen claimed 88% of (U.S.) people were using second screens while watching TV, they meant at least once every month. Ericsson’s 62% refers to how many people are using social media every week. These nuances will go a long way to shape the stat that becomes the headline and the next industry benchmark.

Finally, it’s never a bad idea to question of the motive of the company presenting their findings and what they have at stake in releasing the information they have found.

I say none of this to discredit the research behind the findings. Instead, it’s a warning to those who are looking at what trends are actually happening as compared to what trends special interests would like to have you see.

Whether the next headline reads “Social TV is on the rise” or “Social TV not catching on”, remember to take a second look at the numbers.  Read the rest of this entry »


Social TV Week In Review: The News This Week!

On the rare occasion I cannot write my own content touching on the best social TV news of the week, I leave you with the primary sources: the general news, the Olympics, and news items from Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Google, Apple, Twitter + Apps and other innovations. Enjoy!  Read the rest of this entry »


Social TV Week In Review: Growth & Tech in The TV Market – Twitter and Facebook Battle for the Money

Even amidst a staggering global economy, the television industry is poised to grow. IDATE’s DigiWorld Institute, a leading center for Europe’s market analysis in the telecomm, internet and media industries, forecasts that the global TV market will grow at an annual rate of 4.7% to €355 billion (US $435B) by 2020.

The emerging technologies that are pushing TV ahead from behind the scenes deserve due credit for some of this growth. Gilles Fontaine, IDATE’s Deputy CEO and Project Manager for the report, envisions new distribution models: “the digital store (an open platform that makes all content available to viewers) and self-supply (thanks to the destruction of the exclusive link between the access network and the TV set)”. These distribution models are underpinned by technology that allows the industry to meet the digital demands of tech savvy consumers.

Another example of technology facilitating TV growth can be found in mobile and tablet devices. According to one of eMarketer’s ‘top digital trends for 2012 and beyond’, a majority of users will access the web via a tablet by 2015. Chris Horton, of Internet marketing company SyneCore Technologies, connects the dots; “many millions of users will be accessing TV shows through their tablets”. Device proliferation and better quality video, will drive up content consumption and the price of ad real estate.

The dollars at stake in the TV industry – and the tech sector’s ability to affect its growth – make it a lucrative and logical place for social media giants Twitter and Facebook to expand. Twitter is set to take in $1B a year in ad revenue by 2014.  All Things D columnist, Peter Kafka, claims this puts Twitter on the road towards becoming a media company of its own. Meanwhile, Facebook is signing network deals of epic proportions, notably partnering with NBC for the Olympics and CNN for the elections.

Listen to Mark Silva, SVP of emerging platforms at global strategic design firm, Anthem Worldwide, and you’ll realize Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only players to watch; “there’s money to be made. But the winners won’t necessarily be the companies that already have a major presence in digital and social media”.

Keep reading for more stories on Social TV and Social Video companies: Netflix, IMDb, Wywy, Aereo, Zeebox, SnapCuts, iSpot.tv, Pocket TV and Tout to name a few! Read the rest of this entry »


Social TV Week in Review: The Experts Weigh in

Ask networks where the value of Social TV lies and you’ll hear something like this: “At the core of social TV, is the notion of driving viewers to linear television so they can interact with a passionate community during or immediately following their favorite shows”. (That’s actually Brian Swarth, Showtime’s VP of Digital Services, in an interview with LostRemote).

One of the many ‘promises’ of Social TV is bringing scattered television audiences back into the fold, enticing the individual with a sense of community and driving everyone home to good, old-fashioned, measurable, live viewing. Once back on the ratings gold standard, the TV economy will continue along its course of perpetual prosperity – or so the thinking goes.

Cord cutting, fragmentation, time shifting and a few other buzz words have the industry starting to sweat. New research measuring the impact of Social TV offers a welcome glimmer of hope.

The Time Warner Research Council recently documented the effects of social media use in combination with TV watching. Chief Research Officer at Turner Broadcasting, Jack Wakshlag, summarized, “people use media to optimize their levels of interest and excitement”. In other words, social media enhances, rather than detracts from, the traditional viewing experience.

The novelty of Social TV and the inherent value in understanding viewer’s social behavior has provoked a plethora of studies in recent weeks. A collaborative research endeavor from IAB UK and ESPN, which focused on Euro 2012, found second screen devices (like social media) have a similar ability to generate meaningful engagement.

A third study from CMB Consumer Pulse has aimed to segment TV audiences by their diverse “needs and priorities”. Responding to CMB’s findings, Global Lead Analyst at KIT Digital, Alan Wolk observed that ‘recommendation’ and ‘mobile’ features were noticeably absent from consumer’s minds, despite their prominence in industry discussions. Wolk, highlights this discrepancy to make a point: “The key is that we are not delivering these features in the right way yet and thus, consumers don’t know what they need”.

‘Delivery’ is something Social TV is still figuring out. Should Social TV be on air social integration or second screen offerings? Should the second screen experience come from the original network or a separate provider? Above all, delivering Social TV to viewers needs to be authentic and seamless in order for it to win mass adoption. Simon Staffans of MediaCity makes a simple and adept analysis; we have moved from a world where Content is King to one where Context is King.

As always the full stories on the topics above can be found below. Other top stories focus on TV’s new digital competition; by hours of video viewed, Netflix may be the biggest network of them all! Meanwhile, Facebook, Microsoft and Google advance into the TV space. There’s much more in this week’s Social TV News! Read the rest of this entry »


Social TV Week In Review: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Next): Can Social TV Save an Industry?

The death knells can be heard from the far corners of media industry, but is TV listening? Can something be done or is it simply too late? This week, experts from both sides weighed in on these loaded questions. Henry Blodget, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Business Insider, authored an in-depth piece, “Don’t Mean To Be Alarmist, The TV Business May Be Starting To Collapse”. And with that, the alarm was sounded.

In his article, Blodget drew inauspicious parallels between the television and newspaper industries. The later business underestimated, or ignored, the magnitude of a steadily shifting consumer base until the damage became irreversible. Blodget suggests the TV industry is now following down the same path. Apple’s Airplay, SmartGlass, and Simple.TV (see more on all of these below) are only facilitating viewers’ behavioral shifts.  Recent Nielsen data confirms 8.5% of TV’s audience fled in 2011 and a majority of those who only tune in once a month are now doing so via computers rather than sets.

Cue Evan Shapiro, President of Participant Television, who reassures us with a conviction worthy of all caps, “TV IS NOT DYING”. But Shapiro is talking about the idea of TV, “TV is not a device — it is an experience. Prime Time is not a time slot — it is an expectation of story-telling quality”. By this definition Shapiro tethers television to our primal attraction to narrative, a foundation that is indeed unshakable.

In the end Shapiro echoes, and even reinforces, Blodget’s concerns. It is Shapiro who maligns the next generation of TV viewers.  ‘Plurals’, as they are defined, are the first generation to grow up in an anytime, anywhere, anything culture. They are TV’s future revenue stream, but will make their subscription decisions in times of increased financial pressures. Expecting everything, but wanting only pieces, Plurals won’t buy into to the current delivery system. That’s where Shapiro relates TV to the music industry.

Once TV steps into the life-raft with music and newspapers, it will be too late.  It’s time to take note. Something is happening.

So where can Social TV step in? Laurant Weill, founder and executive chairman of Visiware, explains, “Social TV supports a new multi-business model that will redefine the TV ecosystem including T-Commerce, interactive and targeted advertising, premium content sale (i.e., video, music), and gaming”

Additionally, Social TV can strengthen communities around programs and brands. It encourages live viewing and has the power to revive time-shifted audiences. As TV moves across screens and out the door, Parks Associates sees increased opportunities for advertisers and a new draw for networks.

Michael Lantz, CEO of Accedo, touches on a growing value of social recommendation, which can draw audiences in through back channels. In this vein, YouTube has already modified its algorithms to surface videos that win higher levels of engagement while Twitter is expected soon on Google TV (See below).

For everything fit to print, keep reading this week’s Social TV news. Read the rest of this entry »