Social TV, a rising trend that has become the primary buzz amongst broadcasters, content owners, service providers, and TV lovers. All because the traditional ‘couch potato’ is suddenly leaning forward and becoming fully immersed in relevant social and interactive content related to the shows they are watching. As an entire industry observes this evolution, they are also asking the question, what comes next?
Over the past year, influential industry leaders such as Nielsen, Yahoo, and TVGuide.com have all performed studies proving that TV viewers are using their smart devices (tablets and smartphones) to engage with shows that are on TV (referred to as “second screen viewing”). In October 2011, Nielsen released a study stating that “Roughly 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners use their devices daily while watching TV”. In May 2011, TVGuide.com released a similar study stating, “Among Twitter users who browse while watching TV, 50 percent said they talk about the show they are watching”. It is clear that this evolving behavior is inevitable and exponential.
However, the concept of a more interactive and social TV experience is still in its infancy stages in the U.S. and has just started to become more widely known in Canada.
2011 saw the launch of some innovative TV check-in apps, enhanced TV guides, and smart remote controls. But this is just the beginning; the dominant next-generation TV platforms will present viewers with a richer and deeper experience in relation to what they see on TV. Viewers will be able to discover and receive relevant information when it’s important to them. Providers will be able to incentivize viewers to watch shows when they first air, which is precisely what broadcasters and content owners are currently asking for. As validated by the VP of Digital Media at MTV in Variety, "We want [viewers] to watch the shows when they first air. If you miss the show and talk about it later, you miss out on its currency”.
Broadcasters and TV advertisers are realizing that viewers are craving relevant information about what they’re watching based on “Likes” and personal interests at the exact moment they’re watching it. This will require the ‘tagging’ of show content before, during, and after a show airs. For example, a broadcaster may tag a show to ‘push’ a related video to viewers via their website, or an advertiser may tag a Pepsi bottle displayed on the show to push a coupon to viewers that “Like” their brand. The experience will also allow viewers to “Like” or “Tweet” about a famous figure they see on TV, chat with a friend watching the same show, or with one “tap”, buy an item promoted on an infomercial.
This is the future, and it’s just a matter of time before it becomes a seamless experience. As Connected TV’s get smarter and more integrated with the “second screen”, TV show metadata pushed to a smartphone or tablet will continuously become more interactive, social, personal, and relevant to the show you’re currently watching. Finally, the “couch potato” has logged into the 21st century.