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 »

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Social TV Week In Review: Fear and Fortuity in the New TV Landscape

Technology is radically changing consumer behavior and forcing the TV industry to adapt. Out of chaos comes opportunity.

Chaos: DVR and Cross Platform Fragmentation – Are Nielsen’s overnight ratings loosing relevance?

This week, USA Today illustrated how Nielsen’s time-shifted data, coming in weeklong delay, can rebrand networks as winners or losers. Furthermore, “Just 47% of viewing by young-adult DVR users was live, down from 61% four years earlier”. If these trends continue, the traditional overnight ratings will loose value as the currency of the TV economy.

Two separate analyses conducted by comScore and Arbitron and backed by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, found multi-screen TV engagement is on the rise (see articles below). Jeff Siegel, SVP of Worldwide Advertising at Rovi, acknowledges, “Challenges exist for advertisers as they strive to measure effectiveness of campaigns on new platforms and across a fragmented viewership”. With cross platform and social media measurement in increasingly high demand, traditional overnight ratings will further decrease in value.

Opportunity: Big Data and Social TV

Its not all doom and gloom. Eric Savitz, writing for Forbes, claims OTT distribution may actually be strengthening viewer relationships with brands by creating more opportunities for interaction. Among the more exciting perks waiting online are enhanced CRM capabilities and, once the wrinkles are ironed out, the tremendous power of big data.

Start-ups, television manufacturers and cable operators are scrambling to market with second screen applications designed to bring wandering consumers back into the fold. Albert Cheng, executive VP of digital media and chief product officer at Disney-ABC Television Group, remains skeptical of Social TV, citing a relatively small audience and the cost of having writers create supplementary content. Still brands and networks from Viacom, Discovery Communications, the Food Network, USA, A&E, Coke and Pepsi are all wading into the Social TV waters (see related articles below) hoping to cash in.

For all this news and more (Twitter is launching brand pages surrounding hashtags!) keep reading the Social TV News. Read the rest of this entry »