Share this Article
A version of this article written by Richard Kastelein (Founder, Appmarket.tv) & Dick Rempt (CEO, Talents Media) was originally published in the "The Channel" magazine for the Association of International Broadcasters. The PDF is located here.
What is Social TV, and where are we now in the development curve? What does it mean for the business models of the current industry and what challenges lie ahead? In a series of articles, Appmarket.tv will offer you some support to navigate this emerging landscape.
This article focuses the Social TV phenomenon – a general introduction to the concepts and technologies out there… the forces driving further development, and the challenges ahead to make Social TV happen. Following articles will analyze the impact on the broadcasting ecosystem – what’ll happen to existing advertising and business models? And finally… some guidance to the broadcast industry – how to survive or even thrive in the Social TV landscape.
For starters, Marie-Jose Montpetit, Invited Scientist at MIT for Social TV, puts it like this:
"Social TV is not just about people being Social; it's also about devices and even networks being social.1
The impact of Social Media on TV
Social media is here to stay. Media consumption of Facebook, Twitter and Youtube can be measured in hours rather than minutes a day. People under 30 are spending more time sharing content using social media2 and 59 percent of Americans3 surf the Internet and watch TV simultaneously. Brands follow the buzz and have started to flock to emerging convergent formats such as Social TV.
UK’s total 2010 online media budgets are already bigger than those for TV4. So it’s perfectly understandable broadcasters and production companies are looking for ways to combine social media and TV to win back the budgets they are losing.In other words, Social media has become:
“…part of the fabric of everyday life”, said Erik Huggers, BBC director of Future Media & Technology. “The question is how we, as a broadcaster, work with these services and come up with compelling propositions that make using both even better.”5
Social media will actually make TV… more social.
This may come as a surprise – but TV is not becoming social – because, TV already is social and has always been. Yes – we’ve moved away from the TV as being ‘the electronic hearth’ – a collective centralized event for the family – on the cusp of its appearance in the home 50 years ago. TV’s are now peppering the average house – 66% of US households have three or more TV’s with 250+ channels that make TV a more individual experience.
But despite this fragmentation of consumption, there’s still no other mass medium that matches TV as a social experience. Think about the World Cup, Super Bowl, Britain’s got Talent, World Cup Soccer… TV’s always been social as it draws people together around experiences they want to share.
But there’s a lot more coming and social media will add considerably to the social experience of TV. It’s the virtual water cooler, but with instant gratification using Social Media tactics in the broadcast television industry.
More than 50% of people under 30 regularly watch TV while interacting with a web-connected device and more are sharing their experiences around the TV content they are watching6 via web channels. Social TV now is all about social media enhanced TV experience – through single and multiple screens.
Social TV takes off through multiple screens
Single and multiple-screen Social TV can enable parallel consumption and interaction with TV-content, creating engaging experiences.
Like… instead of voting who will win Britain’s got Talent – why not a voting widget on your Smartphone, iPad or TV and help Fremantle with pre-selection to decide who makes it to TV?
Viewers could make themselves part of the experience early in the production cycle. Think about what impact that would have on media value for advertisers… and the value to brand sponsors – the parallel and single screen reach, measures and supports conversion of a highly-targeted audience.
Social TV – driven by Web, Widgets – both single and multi-screen distribution.
At the moment, about 25% of US TV sets shipped are web enabled7. Convergence is happening now. In the near future, there won’t be much of a distinction between web and TV content consumption as web and mobile applications will cross-over to TV to deliver in-screen interaction with content and formats.
Google, Microsoft and Apple are rushing to the scene. CE manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, and Philips are cutting in8. There are over 100 companies globally vying in the IPTV space, and cable, satellite, and traditional broadcast channels are all pushing hard. Web enabled game consoles like WII and PS3 are shifting. Intel is even having influence. 9
Industry analysts now estimate the TV app market to be worth over £1 billion pounds by 201310 with the availability of more than 1 billion TV apps downloaded by 201511.
ITV Live could is an inspiring example. Its two screen solution, introduced shortly before the World Cup in June, gave interaction between soccer fans and parallel consumption of content. The project, led by ITV Live director Dominic Cameron, hit one million users within a week.
Social TV – the future looks bright…
So the big screen can deliver both a lean-back and lean-in experience. Simply watch alone and watch content with interaction via embedded TV widgets… Or watch with family – everyone with a parallel device for personal interaction. Social gaming is expected to make the transition from Facebook to the big screen. With over 82 million people already playing Farmville on Facebook12, it will play a role.
The challenges are complex
How it’ll evolve is not clear. Despite ITV Live success, there are many challenges – on all levels ranging from technology issues (standards), platforms (Google TV, HbbTV, Canvas, Yahoo TV, etc.), web sites and content (not fit for big screen now), content providers (Hulu, Youtube vs. NBC, RTL etc.), format creators (Endemol, Fremantle, etc .) and the old-school broadcasting industry itself. Two huge points are monetization and Intellectual property rights.
One key in driving the convergence forward will be end user preferred experiences and consumption, closely aligned with the brands sponsoring these experiences. Only then brands will allocate serious parts of their media budgets to Social TV.
Making Social TV happen
The new breed of broadcasters, production companies, interactive developers and designers will lead the way and create the brilliant lean-back and lean-in formats needed. To synthesize, through technology, the brands sponsors’ need for new engagement advertising with the desire of viewers for a mind blowing Social TV experience.
At first glance, industry disruption driven by social media poses a serious threat. And to the players in the broadcasting industry who do not adapt to the new reality of Social TV, it will. In order to do it right, they will have to reconsider taking down some of the current walls around the garden and invite innovation inwards via using open standards – as Facebook and iPhone have done so well. The key to success may be even more on a industry cultural level than on a technology level. Who in the current broadcasting industry are able to open up to innovation?
Simon Miller - CEO of Betfair TV - says:
“There are four things that need to be addressed on all the screens... TV, Web, Mobile and Tablets: Communication, Entertainment, Commercialization, and Information." 13