Social TV, the end of TV as we know it

Social TV and the challenge for broadcastersThe future of tele­vi­sion has to be social TV

The days of just sit­ting there pass­ively while being enter­tained by your TV set are draw­ing closer to an end all thanks to social media. But TV is not really com­ing to an end, rather, it’s trans­ition­ing to Social TV, the term used to describe the new integ­ra­tion of TV with social plat­forms to enable view­ers share while they watch.

Enhanced View­ing with the Second Screen

A large major­ity of TV view­ers today access the inter­net via their mobile phones or tab­lets while watch­ing TV (some­times called the second screen), and as a Yahoo study found out, at least 25% of those go online for reas­ons related to the TV show they are watch­ing. And the num­bers keep rising, giv­ing life to social TV. As it stands, ‘second screen’ apps along with Twit­ter, and to some extent Face­book, provide the plat­form for friends to share, com­ment, and vote on what they are watching.

social tvSocial TV and Digital Integration

Integ­ra­tion of TV with social media is designed to enhance viewer exper­i­ence by adding user inter­activ­ity, some­thing tra­di­tional TV has never had the priv­ilege of. Through Twit­ter, pro­du­cers and broad­casters can now get live feed­back from tweets by TV audi­ences — [think — million pound drop from Channel4Channel4’s Mil­lion Pound Drop]. This is not to say that Twit­ter will neces­sar­ily dom­in­ate TV, but it sure is an author­ity in cre­at­ing the much-needed buzz for TV shows.

The Battle for TV Mobile App Supremacy

Since Social TV is built around two things, your TV and social plat­forms, app developers are fight­ing it out to win the battle for recog­ni­tion. Not just some recog­ni­tion but a long-term rela­tion­ship with you and your TV. Some of these apps are inter­act­ive TV guides e.g. the Yap.TV app, to guide you through con­tent selec­tion and offer addi­tional inform­a­tion about the shows and char­ac­ters you might be inter­ested in. How­ever, the three biggest second screen applic­a­tions look set to be check-in ser­vices : Get­Glue, Intonow and Miso.

getglueGet Glue

The Get­Glue app allows you to check-in to the TV pro­gramme you are watch­ing and share with your friends, get recom­mend­a­tions and col­lect exclus­ive stick­ers and coupons. The same works for what you are listen­ing to or read­ing, pos­i­tion the app as an entertainment-focused social network.




Intonow is an auto­mated check-in ser­vice, with the abil­ity to recog­nize the con­tent you are watch­ing on TV by pick­ing up the sound sig­nal and match­ing it to its data­base of TV pro­gram­ming, all in a mat­ter of seconds. Once checked-in, youíll be able to share with your friends, find out what they are watch­ing, dis­cover new shows and access inform­a­tion about the TV show and the char­ac­ters in it.


The GoM­iso app works much the same way as Get­Glue, allow­ing you to share what you are watch­ing and adds real time rat­ing of TV shows and movies. By focus­ing only on TV con­tent, Miso term itself ëthe social net­work for TVí.

So, what do these check-in apps mean for TV?

Con­sid­er­ing the vast amounts of ven­ture cap­ital being inves­ted, it’s safe to say that second screen apps are about to become an integ­ral part of TV view­ing. No one wants to miss their favour­ite epis­odes any­more, or miss the con­ver­sa­tion either. The dis­cus­sion cer­tainly gives people all the more reason to not want to miss their favour­ite shows. The social buzz cre­ated around TV shows has now found enhanced plat­forms ñ typ­ic­ally, TV epis­odes would be dis­cussed in next-day chat­ter at school or the work­place but all that is chan­ging now.

TV is now widely avail­able on dif­fer­ent less tra­di­tional plat­forms: live stream­ing on laptops, smart­phones and tab­lets. And broad­casters like iTV, Channel 4 (through 4OD and the BBC all have all built apps for this:

  • iTV player
  • 4OD
  • BBC iPlayer all allow you to catch up with the tele­vi­sion shows youíve missed for the past week or month. And in addi­tion, there’s TVCatchup — which isn’t a catchup ser­vice at all — but plays free view chan­nels in real-time (well almost…)

4odOn-Demand TV — bet­ter without the Ads… but for whom?

These TV catch-up ser­vices have led to a cul­ture of on-demand or ‘watch when I want to watch’ video. The biggest chal­lenge is that while these ser­vices were offered free and included advert­ising spots, but developers (and some tech savvy users) soon cre­ated soft­ware that would block the ads — Yeyy I hear you shout(!)… but this forced chan­nels like ITV to upgrade their player while chan­ging the mode of data sig­nal trans­mis­sion to restore advert­ising to the pro­gram­ming sched­ule — ‘Bug­ger some of you sigh’

social tvWith DVR sys­tems like the TiVo, users could record shows and watch later with the abil­ity to skip ads. Broad­caster chan­nels felt really nervous about this as the future of advert­ising on which they heav­ily relied star­ted to turn pale but with Social TV, live tele­vi­sion view­ing is re-establishing its pop­ular­ity. Not without, of course, open­ing new oppor­tun­it­ies for broad­casters in the form of addi­tional advert­ising rev­enue through the same second screen apps. As it is, broad­casters now plan to earn more by show­ing ads to app users while they watch TV and inter­act with friends…! (…and every­one lived hap­pily ever after)

Show spe­cific TV Apps

The main chal­lenge now for broad­cast­ing chan­nels is to build show-specific apps that pro­mote inter­ac­tion and viewer engage­ment or lose out on view­er­ship and con­sequently, big-time advert­ising rev­enue. ITV has the X Factor app built as a second screen com­pan­ion while Channel4 has the com­pan­ion applic­a­tion that enables people to play along with the Mil­lion Pound Drop (it has also moved to part­ner with Zee­box, an app that enhances live view­ing through integ­ra­tion with Twit­ter for real time shar­ing and provides you more inform­a­tion about Channel4 con­tent. And more will be needed.

Broadcast audience and research boardsocial tvSocial TV isn’t right about everything

First, the assump­tion that you share the same interests with your social graph is wrong. Second screen apps work by ana­lyz­ing data from your social graph then recom­mend­ing what friends are watch­ing, and this may not neces­sar­ily be in line with your interests. Twit­ter claims to cre­ate buzz for TV shows and enhance their view­er­ship. While this could ring true to some extent, data col­lec­ted in the U.K. by soft­ware com­pany TV Genius for shows like Mas­ter­chef and The Only Way is Essex showed lower BARB rank­ings (Broad­caster Audi­ence Research Board), con­tra­dict­ing the high Twit­ter rank­ings… Which I can under­stand about TOWiE as the rat­ings are prob­ably as con­flict­ing as their tans(!)

And finally…

Still, Twit­ter is hereto stay and its influ­ence on TV rat­ings can only grow stronger. Get­Glue, Miso and Intonow are look­ing like the future too. While DVR sys­tems brought about on-demand video for con­veni­ence, some­thing was still miss­ing - the con­ver­sa­tion. You want to know what your friends think, if they’re watch­ing the same show with you, or if they’ve unearthed some­thing special.

With that in mind, would you rather join the live con­ver­sa­tion, and engage with live TV shows (social TV), with adverts to watch, or just record it and watch all alone later, skip­ping the ads? Not much to pon­der really.

EDIT: 10÷5÷2012 - Eli Fen­nell has just writ­ten a great art­icle relat­ing to how Google+ and You­Tube are the future of Social TV — it’s a must read…


SEO, social con­tent and sig­nals advoc­ate, closet geek (not fully fledge), writer, speaker, & blogger.

Founder of NOD3x ( — Social Net­work Ana­lysis, know­ledge graph ana­lysis application

Lee can be con­tac­ted by email: here


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