The way we watch TV has changed. The internet has moved the availability of content beyond linear TV, and the growth of internet services like Netflix and LoveFilm, together with the influx of high-quality video that’s now available on YouTube, offer today’s viewers more choice than ever before. But the internet hasn’t only affected our content viewing habits. It’s also irreversibly changed how we discover new shows.
How are new TV shows discovered today?
Via a newspaper’s TV section?Perhaps. Browsing the EPG? Occasionally, if you’re lucky enough to find a promising needle in the multi-channel haystack. But more likely – especially if you’re a millennial – new shows are found via social media. Or, rather, those shows find you through natural, grassroots advocacy from your friends and workmates.
Sometimes those social conversations start around a nugget seeded by the show itself. This could be anything from a great trailer to an announcement of a new casting in a familiar series, or a glimpse behind the scenes of a fresh production. Sometimes excitement bubbles up organically.
However it comes about, this brand of social discovery is a powerful force that traditional forms of advertising and promotion struggle to match in 2015. It’s real, trustworthy, and not to be underestimated, which means it should come as no surprise that MarketsandMarkets predicts the social TV market will be worth $256 billion by 2017. Broadcasters are paying attention to these social TV metrics too, as demonstrated by the fan groundswell that brought Community and Ripper Street back via Yahoo and Netflix respectively after NBC and the BBC passed on further series.
So, what’s the best way for TV professionals to harness this phenomenon, rather than simply being swept along by its tide? The answer is to be where the audiences are, give them a good reason to come to you, then seal the deal by providing engaging and meaningful experiences around the great content you’ve created.
It’s for this reason that social TV start-ups like Beamly have shifted away from their second-screen beginnings to provide a social discovery platform built for TV in all its guises – live, on demand, and beyond. By combining a social networking aspect with great content around TV shows, it’s possible to envelope the buzz of anticipation pre-series, retain interest around a show while it’s live on air, and also maintain momentum in between series.
This change in consumer behaviour around TV discovery brings with it a fundamental shift in the types of shows that warrant conversations and ultimately drive people to click and watch. For today’s younger audiences in particular, where great video content comes from (and what form it takes) is becoming more and more relevant.
With this in mind, it’s important to treat video from any creator – be that a top ten performing reality TV show, or a YouTube vlogger that’s rapidly building their subscriber base – in exactly the same way. After all, fans are interested in these stars both on and off the screen, and for younger audiences there’s no barrier between the linear and online viewing realms.
In other words a star, from whatever background, is worth following. Young audiences are eagerly awaiting updates and news around their favourite stars and TV shows, and are willing to share it, but will only do so around timely, exciting content that’s presented in an engaging way. An onward, community-centred journey has to be built-in.
While other TV-focused outlets struggle to get their heads around the YouTube revolution, platforms like Beamly have found that content created around the biggest UK YouTube stars can drive as much engagement as anything created around The Only Way is Essex or EastEnders. Better still, these genres – which appear to be fundamentally different at first glance – can happily co-exist alongside the best that Netflix, Amazon and other VOD giants can offer.
For audiences of all ages great content is still, after all, great content. Content that drives passionate conversations and fierce loyalty, even in a splintered and choice-rich media world is far more valuable than content that does not. With this in mind, the opportunities offered through partnering with a social TV discovery platform that’s built its platform around providing this deep level of user engagement is clear. It can opens up an opportunity for brands to get closer to the talent they know can support their brand message. By focusing marketing efforts on newsworthy, sharable and interactive content that can be seamlessly branded, it’s possible to increase engagement and recognition significantly with a targeted and engaged audience.
About the Author
Juliette Otterburn-Hall, Chief Content Officer at Beamly