You can expect to be able to promote your business, find people you haven’t seen in years, and connect with your neighbors whom you may have never met face to face, all while accessing Social TV technology. According to a 2011 interview with the editor of Wired magazine, David Rowan, “Everyone says that social television will be big. I think it’s not going to be big--it’s going to be huge,” after rating Social TV as the number three tech trend of the year.Using content recognition, it takes your current interests using analytics to provide you with recommendations for television shows, as well as advertisements that are based on your likes and dislikes.
One of the latest crazes in Social TV is the connectivity of players of multiplayer games. Members of Generation Y, consisting of adults who are between 18 and 28 years old, play a lot of video games. Many of the current most popular games are RPGs or role playing games. You can enter an entirely fictional world, complete with currency and costumes, through a video game console. In order to make this type of game feel more real, Social TV technology comes to call.
Other research has shown that viewers of all ages search the Internet more often than they watch television. This is a major turn in the entertainment needs of viewers. In order to keep televisions on the market, social media technology are working hard to combine the Internet with TV. As a result, you can expect to find more ways to interact with your television in the near future. One company, Visiware, has started using Social TV to give viewers at home the opportunity to play a TV show that was broadcast on the air. Imagine being able to play Jeopardy! from the comfort of your own sofa thanks to Social TV!
Social TV Services
There are a number of already running and startup firms looking to unlock the real potential of Social TV and offer unique, engaging services. Some are up and running, though most have services in a continuing improvement and enhancement cycle. They include standalone, specialist Social TV providers and of course the Smart TV manufacturers themselves. Let's take a look at the most interesting among them.
Specialist Social TV Services
It's early days for TV Dinner. In January 2012 they launched a beta test version of their social application for use on the iPad, but full release is expected to follow for all types of devices. Their target is to deliver real time interaction around TV programming by the use of an infrastructure based on that used in the playing of multiplayer online games - with user interactivity coming in the form of displayed conversations, self-expression tools, and game play involvement. All in real time.
Promising stuff, and if TV Dinner can deliver a unique way to allow widespread friends and family to watch and enjoy the same TV programming together, they might have a hit on their hands.
Zeebox lauched in 2011 with an application for mobile devices, but have attracted the interest of BSkyB (British Sky Broadcasting) who have taken up a 10% stake in the company. BSkyB are clearly expecting Zeebox to make waves in the Social TV arena with their service that provides a real time TV guide that shows who is watching what, and also works to combine Tweets and status updates.
So far over 250,000 users signed up, and the deal with Sky means that the Zeebox service can be incorporated into Sky's existing interactive TV programme guide labelled as the Sky+ app.
Coming enhancements should include integration of some of Zeebox's features - Zeetags are an example. These are displayed text messages which show information relevant to the programme being watched. Associated topics, actor names etc. Zeebox also have a rather clever marketing app which can show shopping related info alongside programming, relevant to the content.
All in all, the deal looks good for both parties. Zeebox remain free to enter into agreements with other operators.
GetGlue is already well know on the Social TV circuit and they clearly have bigger plans judging by the early 2012 reports that they raised another $12 million in financing.
The New York-based firm now boasts more than two million users who are able to 'check in' and communicate with friends to let them know in real time what programmes they are currently watching. These users get to GetGlue via TV networks who use their dashboards on hundreds of shows. Over 70 networks in fact!
And it isn't just the social aspect that keeps fans coming back. There are incentives such as virtual stickers and gifts awarded for logging in, while one of the more intangible benefits is that the networks can collect user info. In future that might be used in different ways to enhance social and viewing experiences.
Miso are another social TV provider, delivering an app that lets you look up info on a smartphone while watching a programme on the TV. But it does this in one of the most seamless ways seen so far. In addition to the usual user 'check-in', Miso has developed a new feature known as SideShows.
SideShows offers users a slideshow of extra content that can display simultaneously with a televised programme. Examples of how this work might be, for example, there's a music video playing on TV and Miso brings up a slideshow on your smartphone which gives links to places to buy or download the song. That's a very simple example, but you'll get the possibilities straight away. Other examples might include trivia and other info about the programme or show.
At present Slideshow only works with an iPhone, but clearly the long term plan would be to adapt it to run on a Smart TV screen.
An interesting additional feature is that Slideshows can be created by networks or fans. The possibility for just about anyone to create Slideshows does seem to open up some great potential for interactive experiences.
Orange RendezVous TV
Orange operate a TV guide known as RendezVous, currently on trial for use on smartphones and tablets.Their target seems to be to deliver a service based on a combination of RendezVousTV, various forms of social media, and social gaming.
On its own Rendezvous TV is an enhanced guide which you can use to find out what's on, find real time associated info on programming, and share with friends on both Facebook and Twitter. Chances for users to participate are provided by creating options for interaction between viewers and live shows - joining in on quiz type and game shows.
As with many other social TV services, user participation revolves around 'check-in'. The Orange version of this is known as TVCheck. Viewers log in and can earn points and rewards for social participation, with encouragement to share info both via Facebook and Twitter.
Social Guide is billed as '' the first real time TV guide and social TV platform that makes every show across every network social''.
Take a look at their home page and you'll see why. There looks to be a whole raft of options for social TV participation. SocialGuide combines real time TV viewing with the well known forms of social media offered by both Twitter and Facebook, and delivers a combination which cleverly joins the two seamlessly together. You'll get audience and Facebook comments plus Twitter feeds displayed alongside any show you're watching.
YouToo - YouToo is '' the World's First Social TV Network! Be On TV and get your 15 seconds of fame. Sign up to interact with millions of people across America on national TV''
Back in September 2011 Youtoo announced they'd teamed up with VIMBY to become the first social TV network to offer millions of viewers the chance to actually be on TV - a kind of Youtube for television. With a ready made audience of around 15 million US viewers via cable TV providers, there looked to be every chance they had a potential hit service on their hands.
The Youtoo service revolves around a revolutionary way to encourage user -TV inteactivity, with subscribers getting an easy way to get themselves on the big screen with just a few clicks. The 'I'm on TV' app operates in a similar way to Facebook, with users recording and submitting videos which then get reviewed and if suitable, shown in screen.
It's easy to see how Youtoo is different. They've stepped away from standard social networking where the focus is on direct interaction with your friends and family, and instead get you (potentially) in front of a national TV audience.
Slots on the app are called Fame Spots, and can be recorded from either smartphones or tablets/laptops. Upload is free, quick, and easy
Naturally with social interaction as its core proposition, the programming on Youtoo is focussed on stuff that is popular and lends itself well to social commentating and involvement. As a television network, they're perfectly placed to combine and position the content they broadcast to be open to that social involvement.
Youtoo has also built virtual economy and gaming concepts into the service. These work by giving viewers chances to buy or earn Youtoo credits, which can then be exchanged for virtual goods and services within the social network itself. Example of these include buying social shouts on air to buying customised profile pages within the Youtoo website.
The huge range of apps available to the iPad make it a great target for social TV providers. ConnecTV are one such provider who saw the opportunity and launched a soical TV app offer over 250 national channels, and will soon roll out exclusive content to more than 200 local affiliates and 26 regional sports networks.
ConnecTV's social platform lets subscribers see at a glance what their friends are watching and share great TV moments with those friends with a single touch. The service is seamlessly integrated with Facebook and Twitter by simply tuning in to a favorite programme.
And every time a new channel is chosen, you can instantly see the total number of your friends who "like" the show and invite those who are not already watching to join in. Facebook integration of course gives you options to chat with friends who are watching any programme or join ConnecTVs "show chat" which delivers the best fan Tweets plus official Twitter feeds from show or game partcipants - including players, actors, producers etc etc
It doesn't end there. Sports coverage is handled with a stunning range of options - real time team and player statistics, facts, involvement with game commentaries.
ConnecTV's service synchronises with more than 250 national TV channels, and is soon intended to be introduced on more than 200 local channels from the likes of ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX. Plans include the addition of 26 regional sports networks over the next few months.
Boxee is well know as an internet TV box - an alternative way to get Smart TV services without the need for buying a fully fledged Smart TV. Boxee's intention to get in on the social TV act was announced at the January 2012 CES show in Los Angeles.
The Boxee solution will give you the ability to share any content you're watching straight to Facebook, with sharing made automatic by using 'Open Graph'. Auto sharing has an opt out option if you don't want it, but if you're opted in then programmes will auto share after you've been watching for a couple of minutes.
The program guide will show how many Facebook friends are involved and watching a show, while also displaying profile images too.
Trendr.tv - TrendrTV is '' a comprehensive service for networks, studios, brands, and agencies that incorporates multiple social and syncopated data sources tracking all major networks and shows. Total Activity is Trendr.TV's proprietary tally of social media activity: Twitter mentions, public Facebook posts, GetGlue check-ins, and Miso check-ins.''
Viggle is a new app that's planning to offer social TV fans a reward based service similar to those run by airlines.
It's another check-in type service very similar to GetGlue and Miso but delivers an extra flavour where instead of badges and stickers, subscribers can get more substantial financial rewards like free burgers from Burger King, or subscriptions to movie streaming services.
Details on Viggle's method of operation are unclear at this point, with a launch date still some way off.
The manufacturers don't want to be left out of any social TV revolution for obvious reasons. Clearly they need to be trying to capture and keeo viewers who have models of their own Smart TVs. What better way than to add social apps into their standard Smart TV portals.
Panasonic Split Screen
This app allows you to launch Skype simultaneously while watching a TV programme. For those who don't know it, Skype is a hugely popular service that offers the perfect solution for video conferencing with family and friends. It's easy to see the benefits and fun in being able to chat 'in person' while watching the same programming. This does need a few extras though. You definitely need a good broadband connection for video calling, plus an extra camera that's Skype-enabled.
Not stopping there, Panasonic announced plans in early Jan 2012 to offer a MySpace TV service which will be built in to the next wave of Panasonic Smart TV models. Plans are for the early MySpace service to focus on music related content, utilising the existing MySpace library of over 100k music videos and 40+ million songs. Future plans should see that expanded to cover news, movies , reality shows, and sports.
The Myspace service is planned to extend to other types of Smart TV later. For now you can sign up for a trial at MySpace.com/tv
We're definitely going to see more and more services starting up in addition to those I've listed above, and one wonders if there is a market for all of them. Clearly only the strongest will survive, and it's not easy to predict which ones those will be. It wouldn't be a surprise to see consolidation happening at some point.
For now, many are still at the stage of being check in type services, hanging off the back of TV guides. Checking in is not an activity that everyone will want to do, and it's the ones which can adapt and grow the quickest who are likely to be the winners.
Here are a handful more social TV services. I'll cover them in more depth when time allows.
IntoNow Peel yap.tv Umami Tunerfish Philo
What Does Social TV Mean To The TV Industry
The TV industry has become used to a status quo over the last 10-15 years, particularly in the way that we find out what's on to watch and the way that TV show ratings are put together. But times are changing, and the power to control TV and to rate the value of what's being shown is beginning to shift to us, the viewers.
And at the forefront of the current changes is social TV, or more to the point the possibilities that social TV gives us.
Already there's a lot of focus on how TV ratings are being shaped by simultaneous measurement of social activity with the airing of TV programmes. The volume of social activity gives off multiple clues as to how popular and how well received any specific programme is becoming, and of course there are significant relationships between that social activity and the popularity of a show. Viewers are quickly becoming the barometer of any shows success, and there is no sign of that stopping.
TV producers know that social recommendations made during a programme are encouraging interactivity. The Smart TV manufacturers know it too, as do the advertising experts. It's in all their interests to drive and encourage that social interaction further.
So what does all this mean?
We can look on the answers to that from two different perspectives. For us, clearly it should mean more enjoyment and more options for interactive TV entertainment. We should see shows being specifically created to encourage social interaction. For the industry, it does mean they'll need to focus on - and be continuously aware of - the fact that we hold the ultimate power to decide what makes a good TV programme, and we have ways to show it.
New Social TV Developments
Jan 20th - LGs New Social TV Partnership LG and TouchTV will team up to deliver a potentially explosive social TV solution. TouchTV - offering viewers the chance to choose to watch different trending events at any time promises to break new ground for millions of LG TV owners.
More Info & Useful Resources
Lostremote.com is a site dedicated to social TV. At this point it's the most complete and wide reaching you'll find. Clearly the owners had the foresight to start developing early, and have managed to build a highly valuable resource.
In particular it's definitely worth reading LostRemote's 12 predictions for social TV in 2012. The depth of interest in our subject can be gauged by the wide and varied responses to that post.
SocialTVDigest is a news site that curates social TV news from various sources across the web.
Mashable collects content from various technology blogs and is one of the most respected websites of its type. The social TV section contains links to a number of valuable posts.
Social interaction and our televisions make perfect bedfellows. The time is right and the technology is with us to bring them closer together.TV is most. The growth of social TV is an unstoppable force, clearly demonstrated in the almost weekly startups of new services.
In the very near future the long held view of how we manage our TV viewing is set to change dramatically. We, and the industry manufacturers and developers, will need to move with the times to keep up....and it looks sure that our TV enjoyment is heading for an increase while we try to do just that.
Social TV is fast becoming the hottest innovation in the entertainment world today, mainly thanks to the combination of enhancements in Smart TV technology and the worldwide explosive interest in social media. It's a term you're going to be hearing a lot about, and if there's any doubt about that just take in these facts. The 2012 Superbowl game got over 12 million social media mentions, and it's now heading towards half of us regularly texting or Facebooking with friends and family while we watch TV.
Smart TVs aren't just about getting the internet on a big display, or getting movies streamed when you want them, or playing multiplayer video games. They're all about convergence and interaction - taking you and your smartphone or iPad and combining them with the TV screen to deliver new forms of entertainment. Social TV is one of those new forms, and with the new entertainment options it offers it promises to be the most important and game changing of them.
Can you imagine a solution where you can become truly interactive with your TV set and the programming you watch, and bring your friends into the equation too? Social TV gives that solution, offering the possibility to communicate with others while watching your favorite shows, interact with your television to find you shows based on your interests, and share your television viewing experiences with your pals.
Surprisingly it's been around for a couple of years, mainly in use on mobile devices via social apps, and was actually voted as one of the top 10 most innovative technologies in 2010 according to the MIT Technology Review. There are reports which suggest there were over 6 million mobile social apps users in the US by the end of 2011. So while the concept of interactivity on mobile technology is not new, the use of Social TV to interact with other people on the big screen is on the verge of ushering in a new era of television viewing entertainment.
You can just imagine watching the big game with your friends via some form of Social TV service, even though you might be hundreds or thousands of miles from everyone! So are you sitting comfortably? This is going to be a big subject. Lets take a look at what it is, what it does, what it will do, and why it's going to be great.
What Exactly Is Social TV?
With such a huge range of potential uses, you're probably looking for a very simple answer to this. So here goes...
Social TV currently refers to social media activity that takes place on a TV screen in conjunction with programming being watched.
That TV programming might include movies, ads, soaps, comedies, game shows, or reality TV shows..plus dozens more.
That social media activity might be chatting with friends on Facebook, voting for favourites on competitive shows, or sending Tweets to followers. With Smart TVs, all of this can be done at the same time while watching on screen. Twitter especially is ripe for some Smart integration - for some time now we've been using Twitter hashtags to comment on popular programmes, and many programmes or shows explicitly show their hashtag name to invite social commenting.
MIT Technology Review named Social TV as one of the 10 most important emerging technologies that will change the world. It supports communication and social interaction in the context of either watching TV or related to TV content, harnessing relationships we already have in social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with entertainment, like movies and TV. It also allows people to share their feelings about what they watch – while they watch it.
While broadcast networks like NBC are still testing real-time interactive systems, users have taken charge and are creating their own social TV experiences. Fans of specific TV shows from different timezones around the world are saving the latest episodes of their favorite shows on their personal video recorders (PVRs) and then arranging common viewing times with their friends to watch the shows whilst discussing the action together on Skype, Facebook or Twitter, reports the New York Times
Patrick Kennedy explains the impact of this trend
Social TV also enables social exchange, allowing friends and followers to read updates posted on social networks such as Twitter and draw from these to decide what programs they themselves might also enjoy. Think of it as a new kind of content recommendation that people will consider because it comes directly from people they know or whose taste they respect.
And let’s not forget the ability of social media to make TV viewing social again. It used to be that families and friends sat down in front of the TV set at the same time every week to enjoy a popular sitcom and then spend hours talking about the best scenes or what made them laugh most. The advent of the Internet, the rise of the DVR and the advance of connected devices – platforms that allow people to place shift their viewing and schedule their content consumption — have changed this routine forever.
Thus, Social TV puts the tools in our hands to contribute to the discussion around TV programs – any time it suits us. We can also connect with friends, followers and people we trust to find out what shows they watch or record as a means of discovering new content we’re sure to like.
Against this backdrop, it’s easy to imagine new business models that will deliver new levels of interaction across screens and across the ecosystem. We have already seen consumers move away from buying DVDs to renting movies instead (both in physical and digital forms). Riding this wave Netflix already provides its library to subscribers across a variety of devices including connected TVs, Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and iPads. With players including Hulu, Sling Media and Sony jumping on the bandwagon, it’s a given that 2011 will see multi-platform content services break on to the mainstream where people will harness Social TV to spread the word
The problem with syncing To create a compelling real-time user experience, any second screen app needs to synch with the main TV - and finding out what’s playing on the TV is not easy. The most basic solution to this problem is to create a second screen app for one TV show in particular - e.g. encourage viewers to download the “Mad Men” app to use while watching a show. However, this doesn’t completely solve the problem, because showings differ depending on timezone, pay TV provider, and region. In the USA this problem is especially important to solve because many TV programmes premiere at different times on the East and West coast. Approaches to Synching 1. Listening Many companies are looking at the problem of syncing from different angles. ABC is using audio fingerprinting on the iPad to hear what the TV is playing. Similarly, Shazaam has just raised $32 million <http://gigaom.com/video/shazam-funding-tv-ads/> to “listen” to the TV, identify commercials, and provide related advertising content. And 12 week old startup IntoNow was recently acquired by Yahoo for 20 million <http://www.appmarket.tv/news/1165-yahoo-acquires-social-tv-startup-intonow.html> used the technology to provide second screen interaction that travels with you as you move between programmes. However audio fingerprinting or “listening” can require advanced technology and infrastructure and there are inherent problems with lag time between identifying the show (it clips ten seconds of audio, sends to servers, identifies, then sends back), background noise interference and the fact it works with native applications only, not generic web applications. And it needs a microphone or it won’t work. 2. TV Checkin TV checkin, pioneered by the likes of GetGlue <http://getglue.com/> and Miso <http://gomiso.com/>, is requires minimal infrastructure to roll out. TV checkin encourages viewers to sign into a particular show, and chat about it as they watch. The major downside of this approach is that checking in makes an extra step - only the most highly engaged consumers participate. 3. Automated systems Anthony Rose has forecast <http://www.v-net.tv/NewsDisplay.aspx?id=897&title=companions-will-totally-disrupt-broadcast-tv-for-good-or-bad> the rise of automated systems that know the content we are watching now on the main TV, matching content on companion apps, with companies likeFlingo <http://www.flingo.tv/> coming out of stealth mode. The cleanest way to synch the second screen is to interface with the set top box software according to Rose. This requires intelligence set top boxes, but connected and smart TVs are steadily gaining a foothold in the market. The advantage of this approach is that the consumer doesn’t have to do anything - their tablet or smartphone “just knows” what they’re watching.
This perfectly complements the lean back attitude of TV, helping consumers embrace the second screen. 4. Curated Systems Another method of triggering second screen interaction is offered up by companies such as The Application Store <http://www.applicationstore.co.uk/> (TAS), Ex Machina <http://www.exmachinagames.com/>, Screach <http://www.screach.com/>, ’MIGs mVoy <http://www.migcan.com/mobile-technology/mvoy-engage/> and others who offer up white-label customer management systems. The systems give a framework that is tied to playout timelines in the studios and allow for creating interactivity and engagement such as quizzes, voting, predictions, social media, chat etc. on second screen devices via apps and web pages. And does not necessarily need audio fingerprinting to synchronise.
For instance, the TAS Screentoo application framework <http://www.appmarket.tv/news/1256-screentoo-white-label-application-framework-with-interactivity-and-payment-engines-for-broadcasters-and-content-producers-launched.html> from is integrated into UK-based, global broadcast playout system provider Snell's broadcast automation system called Morpheus, used by over 700 broadcasters worldwide. The broadcasters can create, with real-time data essential to maintaining synchronicity between the primary broadcast and second screen devices.
Netherlands-basedEx Machina, <http://www.exmachinagames.com/> Social TV veterans, work closely with a number of major production companies to create real time engagement around reality and game shows in particular, offering up their strong background in gaming and game mechanics to their clients in this emerging space with their PlayToTv platform <http://www.exmachinagames.com/playtotv>.
As synchronising the second screen becomes easier, expect to see TV becoming more interactive, engaging and personalised. This is a trend that enables a lot of other changes that are happening in the TV industry- namely targeted advertising, social TV, and personalisation.
The easy answer is that Time Warner, Sky and other investors in Social TV services think that they can make money in the medium to long term. But what's the business model here? How exactly do they believe they can capitalise and monetise the act of communal viewing? Here are 4 possibilities:
1. Users & the new Television Land Grab
Headcount means a lot in and of itself. Just look at Facebook which, when it goes public (probably sometime later this year), is expected to be valued at around $100 billion based on 800 million members each individually prized (and priced) at $120. Social TV is a new frontier in the land grab of how television will be watched in the future. Investment = more money = more marketing = more users = bigger valuation. It's a sound strategy. As single-person households rise the theory is that more of us will want to immediately share our TV experience with close friends via Social TV apps instead of waiting till the next day to have water-cooler conversations.
2. Advertising & Data-Gathering
Traditional advertising models for linear TV have always been about identifying a probable demographic that watches a show (e.g. 16 - 25 year olds tuning into 'The X-Factor') and targeting them with related advertising. It's, necessarily, an extrapolation. Similarly, BARB ratings in the UK are based on a panel of around 5,000 households. Social TV apps however have some distinct advantages.
First, because services like Zeebox and GetGlue allow for Facebook / Twitter sign-in, they can tell exactly who is watching what show and on what platform whether that's live or time-shifted. No guessing, just solid data and solid income. For advertisers - particularly online video advertisers - this is a real boon. Using a real-life example, one of the big online video advertising networks recently told me that 'The X-Factor' had a significant audience of 40-plus year old men that lived in Yorkshire who watched the show on-demand. Social TV apps can identify specifically and not just as a generalisation.
Second, BARB's sample is just way too small. The bigger Social TV apps, whilst they may not yet have truly caught the popular zeitgeist, are still used by more than 5,000 households. They provide real-time information about what's being watched where, when and by whom. What would you rely on? As a data tool, Social TV apps can give content-owners a much clearer indication of their expanded constituency.
3. Shopping & Proprietary Technology
Some of the Social TV apps out there are fairly basic in that they incentivise users to participate with nothing more than the earning of 'badges' or community kudos. On the other hand, something like Zeebox, which uses distinct and proprietary technology, "knows" when an ad break is about to occur, "matches" a product displayed in a break and offers an online option to go and buy it. That's proper interactive shopping and is a cut above the rest of the field.
And if a Social TV app can incorporate "in-show" shopping ( as demonstrated by White Square Media), that really will be an innovation.
4. More Content & The Long Tail
At the Smart TV Summit in London last November, Anthony Rose of Zeebox said that people wanted to know 3 things when they're watching a movie / TV programme: more information about the show itself, how to buy the things they see on-screen and how to see more episodes of the same show / series.
With Social TV apps you can easily access more episodes wherever they are on the web. This is the "long tail" - the idea that a digital asset (whatever it may be) has a much longer shelf-life than an analogue equivalent. For example, you may not have watched an episode of 'Blackadder' for years on linear television but you'll almost certainly be able to find it on the web somewhere.
And using this example, ('Blackadder' is on Lovefilm - sign up for a free trial. Lovefilm is NOT one of our sponsors!), users may be enticed to pay for more content and therefore provide affiliate income to the originating Social TV platform.