The television industry is experiencing more consolidation than ever. Earlier this year, Yahoo shut down IntoNow, i.TV bought GetGlue, and Viggle bought Dijit—which all took place on the heels of blooming TV partnerships, such as the collaboration between Comcast, NBC Universal and Twitter. There’s no denying that all of this consolidation is in some way related to the concept of second screening and the overarching social TV phenomenon.
Companies are still figuring out what medium will work best—and given its explosive growth over the past few years, Twitter could easily become that medium. The social networking giant has been dipping into the TV pool for some time now, most notably by acquiring Blue Fin Labs and Trendrr, which are data-driven companies that analyze what people watch on TV. Furthermore, Twitter has already proven to be the hottest second screen app this year with 672 million tweets written about the World Cup during the month-long competition. Other events that received notable attention on Twitter this year were the Super Bowl, with 5.6 million unique tweets, and The Golden Globes, with more than 1.5 million tweets.
The question is, why is Twitter dominating? Aside from the obvious, in that it enables―and is optimized for―real-time communication with others that have similar interests, Twitter is continuing to bigfoot the “Social TV” space, giving consumers limitless opportunity for self-expression. Consumers share what they want, when they want, from where they want and on whatever device they want―and they enjoy sharing their opinions about TV. Twitter is the perfect tool for consumers to do so without being overwhelmed by content, including flashy, irrelevant ads and show-themed games that social TV technology entrepreneurs are trying to push into the viewing experience.
Consumers are also starting to influence content with fan-voted endings and live audience voting via social channels like Twitter. As Twitter, and social media in general, becomes further ingrained into the viewing habits of today’s content consumers, our understanding of the social TV phenomenon will grow and create additional, practical insights for networks and advertisers.
Looking ahead, many are wondering if there will be a social platform that consumers will overwhelmingly turn to for all-things TV. We want to know if we will be able to find information about our favorite actors, watch previews of new shows, and discuss our favorite TV events as they air―all from one platform.
So, what is the future of social TV?
No End in Sight
We’ve seen TV viewing shift from reactive to proactive with the proliferation of mobile devices and the connected home. Due to these flourishing concepts, consumers have more decisions to make than ever when it comes to TV. In order to get consumers’ attention, companies need to be smart, simple and seamless in inspiring social TV interactions. Consumers are looking for a more personal, relevant and engaging viewing experience without feeling overwhelmed by unwanted content.
TV Everywhere technology providers help by delivering personalized content to users on their second screen devices without interrupting the viewing experience. The unique and targeted advertising integration enables greater contextual second screen interactions, generating greater revenue for service providers.
Yet there is still an undeniable opportunity for thriving third-party social networking companies to capitalize on the social TV trend, and they are well aware of it. In fact, Twitter and Facebook have already optimized their brands to encompass TV viewing trends and, of course, sharing capabilities. These social behemoths are leading the charge, and you’ll see them continue to make big plays in the social TV space.
The Outcome is Crystal Clear
Social TV has changed the traditional television viewing experience and it’s not fading away. Such phenomenons, however, take time to fully bake; just think, who would have guessed that the first Apple computer would transform into the product it is today? While I can’t look inside a crystal ball and see the future, there is no doubt that social-driven content discovery and social interaction on second screen devices while watching TV will evolve immensely in the next few years as more and more TV viewers warm up to the concept of social TV.
While social TV is unquestionably growing, there’s definitely room to introduce a host of other services and enhancements with TV viewing, but social networks like Facebook, and especially Twitter, will have the biggest hand in moving social TV forward over the next few years. What do you envision social TV to be like in 2020? What new interests will be incorporated into second screening? How will advertisers tap into and leverage the momentum of social conversations? The possibilities are endless.
About the author
Paul Scanlan, Co-Founder and President, MobiTV
Paul Scanlan serves as co-founder and president of MobiTV, Inc. Heading up the new London office, Scanlan is managing and growing all aspects of the company’s international sales and partnership activity. He has played a critical part in all aspects of the company’s success - from its early beginnings forging the path for new and innovative TV services through to today’s position as the market-leading end-to-end managed service for multi-screen TV delivery.