Study: Devices Will Drive Social TV

Second-screen devices combined with customized content, interactive apps and loyalty programs will fuel the growth of social TV activity over the next two years, according to a new Gartner study.

Along with the rise of smartphones and tablets as companion viewing devices, the research firm highlights the emergence of three trends that together from a “holistic” social TV experience:

-The use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to allow users to create and check status updates as they engage in real-time conversations related to TV programming.

-Apps that deliver bonus programming, tighter community engagement and larger social interaction through second-screen devices.

-Iincentive programs that allow for more direct engagement with content to generate loyalty through rewards, check-ins and other gamification methods.

The report suggests broadcasters, advertisers and vendors would be wise to capitalize on the second screen phenomenon to capture consumer attention.

"TV and video content providers such as cable companies have a great opportunity to target heavy users with social TV in order to reduce potential churn," said Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, in a statement. "The time to take advantage of this opportunity is right now as social TV services have not yet been dominated by a single solution and the market is far from saturated."

While social TV will be driven by second-screen devices, the research firm says television will remain the primary device for sharing video content in the home. Connected TV will open up access to a much wider range of content via the Internet, opening the possibility of worldwide video sharing.

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