2011 – Will Social TV Live Up To The Hype?

Million Pound Drop - 2nd screen

This time last year we began a research and development project on social TV for one of our media clients. It was apparent then that social TV had begun to significantly change the way that consumers were watching television – and increasingly seeking out access to engaging and socialised experiences in all areas of media consumption. The second screen (whether laptop or mobile) was being increasingly used – with Twitter and other social networks – as an accompaniment to TV viewing.

In response, broadcasters, content providers and digital start-ups rapidly became interested in how this new space could offer fresh opportunities to enhance viewer experience, driving interactivity, community and talkability around programme brands.

We identified the appearance of three basic types of contenders: convergent TV services (YouView, Google TV and Verizon FiOS in the US), dedicated devices and technologies (Boxee, Popbox, Roku) and social TV applications online or on mobile (Tunerfish, Miso, Philo).

In the UK, perhaps the most prominent development in recent months has been the advent of live ‘playalong’ scenarios on the web, for example Monterosa’s work on Million Pound Drop (C4) and America’s Next Top Model (Living).

With the continued growth and diversification of web and mobile applications and integration of social networking into all aspects of our lives, 2011 is being predicted to be the year of social TV. Large media firms and broadcasters cannot afford to get left behind in the race to establish a sound (and preferably revenue-driving) business model, and new start-ups seem to be appearing every day.

Most are in the US and many remain in beta testing: Tunerfish, Starling, Miso, Philo, Yap.TV, and perhaps 2011 newcomer Into_Now. GetGlue has been around longer – since 2007 – and offers a broader proposition of entertainment ‘check-ins’ (TV, movies, music, books) which saw its user base grow from 30,000 to over 650,000 in 2010.

But it’s very much anybody’s game at this point. Features like check-ins, points/badge systems, real-time chat, voting, social network integration and exclusive content are being offered, but it will be the users/viewers that decide what type of social TV experience they prefer. Ultimately, second screen social content must add to, not distract from, the TV viewing experience. This added value must also be meaningfully extended to advertisers and sponsors on whose support these social platforms depend.

(You can also find Que Pasa on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/QuePasaCommunications … or on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/QuePasaQuePasa … see you there!)


31 responses to “2011 – Will Social TV Live Up To The Hype?

  1. Very interesting – Indeed 2011 is set to be the year for Social TV.
    I wrote my Masters on Social TV, my research can be found here: http://www.banterbox.tv

  2. I often wonder how TV viewing will “look” for my children, now 8 and 11, when they grow up.

    I doubt they will have regular commercials, which makes me somewhat sad…a big chunk of our cultural references (as pedestrian as they may be) come from really bad/memorable commercials (ever have that not-so-fresh feeling, anyone?).


  3. while the thought is new & exciting, im going to hold out as long as possible…i like my social media & my tv, just not necessarily together.

  4. Great post…I can’t wait to see what is to come. 🙂

  5. I’m always curious where technology will take us. I wish I had a way to peek into the future to see what life would be like.

    Ahh I don’t know…I have been feeling a greater sense of “disconnect” with people as technology has the possibility of bringing everyone close together, but I feel it has made it too simple for people, and when communicating, simple may not be the best way to go.

    • I partly disagree, removing barriers to communication is great, though the communities formed may not be to everyone’s liking.

      Being able to choose who you interact with means you don’t need to leave your comfort zone. This can lead to problems later on when you need to do exactly that (work is a prime example)

      If you’re feeling disconnect, you could do worse than focusing on the social interactions you really care about.

      Technology gives us choice, it’s up to users to make the right ones.

  6. Well, I guess time will tell with this social TV stuff; this should be interesting to see unfold.

  7. This is sad – I’m so far behind, I just got my first flat screen. It’s not even hooked up and now there’s social TV?
    How far behind do people who are older or in old-school industries feel?

    • No, social tv is about getting people from passively watching to actively engaged (whether through mobile apps or on the computer) this allows the show to not only hold your attention better because of your active involvement, while keeping you coming back in the future, and has the added bonus of additional advertisement revenue (tv commercials, internet ad revenues, spam list service based on demographic information you provide, which, in turn, allows more expensive and better targeted tv ads, ect. ect. ect.)

      It isn’t a technology per se, but a new way of moving the shared communal experience from passive to active.

  8. The other day my wife suggested we drop our cable service, and I really had to think hard about whether or not to keep it. We don’t watch a lot of real tv anymore, and the video on demand services we use are available through our computer (which is hooked up to the TV….) For now, we’re keeping it, so Eldest Weasel can watch Dr Who, only available through Space Channel, but when that season ends…Maybe we’ll cut the cord…

  9. Interesting…but I kinda’ like playing with my laptop as I watch TV. I don’t think my husband wants to watch me do my blog, play Bejeweled, etc. as he watches tv with me…

  10. Wow, yeah, it’s only a matter of time before computers and TVs merge into one super social networking component.

    And I hate to say it, but it feels like more and more of Big Brother to me from 1984. How you can interact with your TV.

    Although, I’m not so skeptical we will lose our freedoms, but the social TV is something everyone has to get used to, and the way technology is going, the adjustment will be made quickly.

  11. Thanks for breaking this down so nicely. It’s not easy staying on top of all these trends. Still, makes me nostalgic for the days when fun was defined as going to the park to play football in the mud and rain with a bunch of friends. I’m feeling old!!

  12. Let’s wait and see while hoping for the best.

  13. Aren’t we social enough? I think it’s too much and it feels like it’s being shoved down our throats!

  14. Attaching emotions to the technology is useless, as i feel our emotions do change with the ever evolving technology.
    Thanks for the share.


  15. I feel like as time goes on ‘Social’ is going to be a part of everything. We have begun to think of Technology in a very different way and culture is adjusting to think in terms of Facebook and Twitter.

  16. I find this to be a completely useless technology. There are certain mediums that are not meant to be that interactive, and TV is one of them. There’s a reason why people are employed in television as writers, actors, news people, producers, etc… and it’s because they’re supposed to be more talented than those who are consuming it. The second TV becomes entertaining BECAUSE you can see what Average Joe thinks about the Egyptian riots or the latest episode of House in real-time… it’s time for the Networks to simply give up.

    • People care about what people like themselves think. Social [media of any kind] is not the only kind of media, did YouTube wipe out traditional visual media? Did the phone wipe out face to face communication?

      No, they did not. If a given [media] has a market, it will live, if no-one cares, it won’t.

      Don’t even start me on the so called “talent” of modern television. It’s no surprise that the “average joe” thinks they can do better.

  17. you are absolutely right about this. I actually prefer to watch things online now. I actually did an article on this as well. Well a similar one.


    But internet is connecting the world one person at a time now, even with the television. It has to keep up.

  18. I am really interested to see where this technology will go. Thanks for contributing! – SOCIALLY AHEAD
    Twitter: @sociallyahead
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sociallyahead

  19. It probably won’t live up to the hype (written as I look back at the gravestones of hyped technologies). However, it does seem obvious that traditional TV and the web will continue to merge thus blending the social and the TV even more.

  20. Thanx for the list of new programmers, shall check them out..
    Korea seem to leading the way with interactive TV. The medium is ready for a leap.
    Nowadays i tend to tune in to ted.com, vimeo or u-tube to watch intelligent programmes which i can choose, read comments on and share with friends, instead of the ‘usual crap’ which comes down the regular tube.
    Some are already at a stage of ‘meta programming’ where we choose our own ‘programming.’
    There will always be the sheeple option available too for those who wish to be brainwashed by their favourite soap.

  21. I agree with adoseofbuckley. This has definately been pushed to far. Technology had become a norm for society now as well as social media but sometimes, there is a limit. Not everything revolves around what others are doing in thier personal time. I would rather watch an hour of commerical than read about what is on someone’s mind or twittering about. This form of social interaction and technology is just pointless. All of this technology is bring down the education of today’s society. What ever happened to hand writing a long distance friend?what about calling them? or taking the time to go out into the world and have that face to face interaction? People are going to uneducate themselve and all will have have will be a bunch of computer savy people but ignorant and stupid people. Think about it, if people can express themselve via computer and perfer to do it more comforatably through this medium, how do you think this person will act when in public. I would say, that they will not have a clue of how to put things together. I just feel like people are spending toooo much time on social medias and not investing time to search for thier hidden talents and skills. Where is society going with all this social mumbo jumbo? DOWNHILL.
    Thank you 🙂

  22. Very interesting! Thanks for the blog. Check mine out at http://www.ournote2self.wordpress.com

  23. This is sad – I’m so far behind, I just got my first flat screen. It’s not even hooked up and now there’s social TV?
    How far behind do people who are older or in old-school industries feel?

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