VDS Announces Watercooler - The First Rules Based Automated Social Media Tool for Television

written by: Richard Kastelein

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Engaging television viewers via social media just got much easier - VDS, a leading developer of broadcast automation software, content design and plug-in products, today introduced an automated social media tool for television, called Watercooler.

With Watercooler™ by VDS, - social media posts are synchronized with television content playback and broadcasters can easily engage viewers and create additional revenue opportunities. Watercooler incorporates precise timing information from station automation, enabling synchronized tweets or Facebook posts throughout the broadcast, engaging viewers with program centric information. Watercooler uses the complete program schedule on a per-channel basis, including the true start time, which is much different than the scheduled start time. Segment durations, time code markers and any other associated metadata can be referenced as information.

“We are extremely excited about Watercooler, because it offers broadcasters and content providers the first tool for synchronizing social media with television”, said Larry Mincer, President of VDS. “Broadcasters will be able to engage their fans like never before. With Watercooler they can easily tie social media to product placement, advertising, sponsored events, and multi-platform messages. Watercooler is a game changing tool for today’s media companies; it empowers them to do more by leveraging their existing infrastructure and operations.”

Television networks now know that real-time conversations around TV shows on social media generate viewer engagement and boost on-air ratings and from special events such as the Academy Awards to ongoing programs like Glee or The Vampire Diaries, all have experienced the tremendous impact that social media conversations have in energizing their viewers. But seamlessly executing meaningful social media content in real-time has been a challenge for broadcasters and advertisers – until now.

Broadcasters can create Watercooler events to occur at set points during the program day. With user defined presets, Watercooler can send a pre-composed tweet or post a pre-composed message to Facebook in advance of a program, at a specific point in a program, or even in advance of, or during a specific commercial spot. Viewers with specific interests can opt into reminders as to when a certain event will occur during a program, for example, what time a specific recipe will be demonstrated on a cooking show.

Watercooler is a complete turnkey system housed in a single small footprint server. The user interface is distributed and available to staff with the right credentials anywhere in the facility. Watercooler requires minimal engineering support after installation and operates independently of technical operations. This allows promotions personnel to create Watercooler events without requiring technical staff involvement.

Watercooler can also be used to send show reminders to fans to tell them when their show will air in their location and on what channel, or to highlight a season launch or finale. It can post episode information for upcoming series prior to that episode airing.

With Watercooler, broadcasters can highlight program dialog discussion points by inviting fans to join a dialog about a particular scene in a program. For example, Watercooler can send a message out in advance of the show, “See Mike’s new girlfriend at 9:11 ET”, hot or not”? Or it can send at 9:22 ET, “Did Wendy really just dis her?” Or it can send at 9:24 ET, “Did you just see what Sam did...is that really justified?” Broadcasters can add their own metadata time code points for each program and can use these to create rules as needed.

Watercooler can also be used for product placement contests by sending hints on the product placement, e.g.:

“...you’ll see the secret sponsor in 5 minutes. Be sure to reply for your coupon”. Watercooler can also alert fans as to when their favorite television commercials are airing so they can alert their friends. Further, Watercooler can send e-coupons for sponsored products at specific times in a show for viewers who have opted into a coupon program.

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