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.
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 — Channel4’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.
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
- 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…)
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’
With 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.
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(!)
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.