MAD Perspectives Blog

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 Social TV Rescues Live TV

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 27, 2012


If it’s not mobile, then it’s probably not Social TV.  Social TV is the rapidly growing interactive experience that complements TV viewing. 

It is primarily a live TV experience, which may disrupt the  on-demand TV consumption trend.  Think of Social TV as the replacement for the water cooler conversations that used to occur in days gone by (when we all actually worked in offices and desperately needed a break from our cubicles).  In the 80s we dissected Dallas episodes.  Today we will engage around reality TV, sports, dramas and comedies.  And we’ll do it via second screen apps using our mobile devices.

The Viacom Social TV Study, May 2012, defines Social TV as the ability for viewers to communicate, access content and interact with friends via a second screen.  The dominant screen is the smartphone with 82% of respondents, in the study, indicating it as their preference.  The tablet is a distant second at 18%.  It’s not surprising that these devices are in use while we’re watching TV. Nielsen indicates that 69% of tablet users and 63% of smartphone users are on their devices multiple times per week, while watching TV.

There are an increasing number of Social TV apps appealing to the avid TV viewer.  These apps complement the live TV experience by providing access to proprietary content, interaction with the cast and crew, and rewarding interaction with trivia questions or other games. Reality shows, like American Idol and X-Factor, have recognized the power of social media by enabling voting via Twitter, in addition to texting, calling or online voting. However, Social TV takes this a step further by delivering apps designed to enhance the customer experience.

The pressure is on for apps that are intuitive and quick-responding, with slick user interfaces.  They must be fully integrated with the live episode in terms of content, plot and cast.  Social TV is driving increased viewing of live TV content through adjacent conversations specific to the live event or episode.  The second screen has been denounced as a distraction, but in fact it may be the saving grace for live TV.

What's your perspective?