According to a report published early this year, over one-fourth of users ages 18-24 are interested in having more social media features integrated into their TV. The study found that there’s a desire to use social networking as a platform to actually enhance the TV-watching experience through interactive chats with other viewers and to have the ability to recommend shows to friends. Another new study by Knowledge Networks reveals that the ways in which people learn about and ultimately decide to watch video on TV or the Internet are remarkably similar – with verbal word of mouth (in-person conversations or phone calls) scoring well above social media as a regularly used source, and TV ads and search engines also playing major roles.
The “lean-back” medium is now more “lean-in” than ever. The report, shows that television ads are the most important source for discovering new programs and deciding what to watch on TV (see table below), with verbal word of mouth coming in second for discovery and third for decision making (behind interactive program guides).
‘We see a variety of important, often untapped opportunities for leveraging the ways people learn about and decide to watch video,’ said David Tice, Vice President and Group Account Director of Knowledge Networks. ‘On TV, the interactive program guide remains largely underutilized for promotion, given its central role in viewing decisions. And, with online video, one sees the possibility of placing too much emphasis on social media sources, such as tweets from celebrities, as direct drivers of viewing. In fact, it is ‘in-person’ word of mouth and search – even TV ads or coverage – that show more influence in the online space.’
At the same time we all know that viewers are increasingly leaning froward and socially engaging on other devices while they watch TV. This is know as media blur. LiveHive Systems, measures how viewers are socially engaging with TV while they watch. Their ‘Social Engagement Index’ summarizes the interactive behavior of viewers to determine in real-time how effectively a show is socially engaging its audience. ‘The Social TV movement is forcing media companies to rethink how content is produced, distributed, and consumed. However, the tools to understand how viewers are engaging with a show have failed to keep pace.’ said Dave Bullock, President, LiveHive Systems. ‘Nielsen ratings make a rough estimate of how many viewers are watching a show, but Nielsen is not able to measure how engaged these viewers are, or how they are promoting the show on the social web. These are critical metrics that determine a show’s value and its impact for both producers and advertisers.’
TV shows producers are trying to monitor when fans talk about the programs. Getting the attention of someone who is texting, tweeting or talking about a TV show might still be good enough, after all, if you can’t get them to watch the TV show in the old-school manner.
‘We are in the early, early stages of what is now kind of being deemed ’social TV,’ said John Moore, exec VP-director of media services at Interpublic Group’s Mullen agency. He envisions more TV programming having a built-in social component over the next decade. Consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 “don’t want this isolated TV experience,” which he thinks will prompt TV networks to connect their content to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and various widgets that will be packaged with a new breed of TV sets.
The online video industry is moving closer to Facebook. The latest example is ABC.com for its “V” program, CBS with its initiative around CSI and the recent offering by Hulu. Facebook Connect is Emerging as powerful catalyst for Video Views. Randi Zuckerberg explains to us why (video originally published on Beet.TV).
While the online video industry is moving closer to Facebook, mobile operators are moving closer to Twitter as a way to increase their average revenue per user. Orange, which runs TV services in France, Spain and Poland, just announced to offer tweet-as-you-watch service and integrated mobile features. Until now Twitter users have only been able to send and receive tweets from their online account or by text message. The key to the deal, is that Twitter will become completely integrated with the suite of digital media services available via its mobile portal.
“In countries where we have TV services we plan to enrich shows by allowing people to tweet while they watch their favourite programmes,” said Stephanie Hospital, vice-president of marketing and development at Orange.
In a similar way (but for free), a new application is now available on iPhone (and iPod touch) called tvChatter, enabling viewers to tweet in real time about their favorite TV shows. Watch tvChatter’s vision in video.
As audiences continue to fragment, as more of us multitask with laptops on our laps while watching TV, and as the Internet finally comes to our living rooms with a new generation of solutions like listed lately by Gary Hayes (Social TV Reloaded – 20 Best Solutions), it’s only a matter of time before television becomes ‘fully’ social! Social TV offerings, are on many operators’ roadmaps.
(Published simultaneously on GLITNER’s Blog)