Redefining Social TV

Facebook just announced some sweeping changes, among them “frictionless” sharing for viewers of Hulu and Netflix.  Once you install these apps on your Facebook page, anything you watch on those services is automatically shared on your real-time ticker, e.g. “Sean is watching 30 Rock on Hulu.”  Friends can click through to watch the same episode with you, and chat live on Facebook while you watch.  This is a massive leap forward in the concept of “social TV” -- or is it? It depends on your definition of “social TV.”

From a “social as sharing” standpoint this will certainly be huge.  But will this affect consumers’ linear TV consumption and will these sharing features lead to a rise in non-linear co-viewing? Both are unclear.

Here’s our view - if serendipity strikes, a friend out of however-many-you-have on Facebook may choose to watch and chat about that same episode of “30 Rock” on Hulu with you at that very moment. What are the odds?  At best, this is a “micro-social” TV experience. The big, proven potential of social TV still lies with linear TV, where there is an opportunity to create social television experiences among large groups of people.

Linear TV still dominates viewing consumption. Nielsen says the average American consumes 35+ hours of linear TV per week compared to 2 hours 25 minutes of time-shifted TV and 33 minutes of video on the web. Every marketer will agree that linear TV is unique in its ability to attract large and sustained audiences. 

And with social media, linear TV has gotten even more engaging.  Today more than two-thirds of viewers are on a “second screen” while watching TV.  Over the last several years, social media has created a new shared viewing experience, cultivating passionate audiences for shows like Glee and True Blood and driving viewership for events like the MTV Video Music Awards and The Oscars.  Deloitte predicts that more than 1 billion TV-related tweets will be sent in 2011 - you’re missing half the fun if you’re not engaging on two screens. 

This is significant for networks and marketers because people watching linear TV and using social media are highly engaged viewers.  The more they share via social networks, the more they influence their social graph, potentially driving tune-in and ratings.  Socially engaged viewers are powerful influencers. We believe that fostering social experiences around linear TV provides the greatest benefits to the television audience, networks and marketers.

5 comments about "Redefining Social TV".
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  1. Bruce May from Bizperity, October 20, 2011 at 5:03 p.m.

    The last thing in the world I want to do is let all my friends know everything I am watching on TV automatically. When will Facebook figure out that we want to have some control over these things? I will share what I want to share, when I want. How many people really want to live in a glass house?

  2. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, October 20, 2011 at 5:55 p.m.

    Is anyone else tired of seeing the man riding on the unicorn? PLEASE- somebody buy from him so he can afford to change the creative on his ads! PLEASE!

  3. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, October 20, 2011 at 5:56 p.m.

    You are right Bruce- some people like to throw stones...

  4. Joe Bencharsky from iNet Entertainment, October 20, 2011 at 6:53 p.m.

    I'm not a fan of this Facebook auto-announce feature. However, your points are well taken about multi-taskers, time shifters, and social media users being "more engaged". They also tend to be more influential in their social media networks.

    However a recent study reported by Mediapost articulated:

    "Only 56% of the agency execs said they believe their clients “understand the value” in digital, while 44% said that they don’t see the value."

    From my vantage point I see very little testing of the waters by broadcasters and established media and even less large scale digital endeavors.

  5. Trista Perez from @Large Films, October 20, 2011 at 7:44 p.m.

    You have to install the apps on your Facebook page to allow sharing. You have a choice of whether to let your friends know what you're watching! It's not invasive.

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