Crowdsourcing Social TV Research - User Insight Investing Half a Million Dollars

written by: Richard Kastelein

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User Insight is investing $500,000 in 2011 to conduct The Social TV Experiment, an internal research project that will run through the full life cycle of applying user research to inform product design - which is a compelling for anyone interested in the Social TV Landscape. And as they will be forming a discussion on the project using blog posts and are welcoming participants to help analyze and join the study. For this project, they have created a fictitious client and scenario to fully explain all of the steps along the way. Note the following I recently wrote:

Both Wired Magazine and MIT Technology Review Note Social TV as a Game Changer in 2010/2011.

David Rowan, the Editor of Wired magazine has named Social TV at number three of six in his peek into 2011 and what tech trends to expect to get traction. Couple that with the MIT Technology Review tagging Social TV in the top 10 most important emerging technologies a few months ago and it seems we have both the tech press and academia in agreement. Social TV is a game changer - the intersection of TV and the Web will largely be driven by Social Media - it's natural. TV is inherently social - and Social Media is a conduit. Put them together in a workable, ergonomic way and the convergence will have impact.

With each project, they will first outline the business objectives that will drive the research methodology. User Insight clients typically come to them with a problem that they need to solve or a product they want to develop or improve. While the actual client and scenario is fabricated in this case, it does reflect a typical situation that we see in their business. they'll outline a recommended approach to address the clients’ objectives and their research and strategy teams will carry out the research over the next 12 months sharing deliverables both monthly and quarterly.

The Scenario

The client is a media company that they'll call SportsGuy Media, Inc. (SGMI), which offers a number of sports media products that are widely used across the U.S. SGMI syndicates content to many of the major sports media outlets such as ESPN and CBS Sports providing up-to-the-minute updates on sporting events across the globe. Three years ago, SGMI launched their own website to provide sports content directly to the consumer. At the same time, they launched various fantasy sports games and applications that have become widely popular because of their ease of use and robust stat tracking capabilities. Much of SGMI’s content is available through their mobile applications for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Recently, the CEO of SGMI came across a compelling blog post written by a scholar at Forrester® who cited research that indicated that the average time U.S. consumers report spending online is the same amount of time that they report watching TV. This gave him a reason to believe that SGMI should develop an application that can integrate with multiple platforms: mobile, TV and the Internet. Further, segmentation data suggests that the demographic profile for SGMI’s user base is expanding beyond males, aged 30-45.

As a result, SGMI contacted User Insight to understand the needs of end-users with respect to a multi-platform fantasy sports application. SGMI would like for User Insight to better define the users, the platforms that need to be included, as well as the features and functionality of the application.


Based on the goals and objectives of SGMI, User Insight recommends the following high-level approach:

  • Conduct persona research to define the behaviors, motivations and attitudes of the market in general.
  • Understand how the market in general relates to the target market.
  • Assemble a competitive analysis to understand similar service offerings in the market place. Map these offerings to the personas to identify opportunities.
  • Create an iterative approach to user experience (UX) design that includes contextual interviews, wireframing, prototyping, in-lab and remote usability testing, UX design and visual design.

Don’t miss any updates on the Social TV Experiment, sign-up here and follow on Twitter @UserInsight. they'll use the hashtags #SoMeTVExperiment for general updates and #SoMeTVInsight for real-time updates on insights derived from the research.

In the meantime, give us them your thoughts!

What types of research and information do you use to help inform new products that you want to develop or changes to current products?

What do you think about our approach? What approach would you take?


About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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