(Several of the links in this report will open videos of Social TV Summit presenters. To view all the available video clips, click here)
"Nielsen is a vital sign of the television industry. Think of it as our blood pressure. If Nielsen is our blood pressure, I'd like you think of Twitter as our heartbeat. It's the EKG of attention around a show. It leads to a different playing field." Chloe Sladden of Twitter at the Social TV Summit
"The user experience of watching television, for the first time in 50 years, is changing." Hardie Tankersley of Fox-TV at the Social TV Summit
"We have moved from the invention stage of the Internet transformation to the application stage. The technologies are there. On the horizon are many developments in the social TV space. There is an audience ready, willing and waiting for their products, services and applications." Jack Myers at the Social TV Summit
Social TV is still a small, nascent industry but primed for massive growth, according to the participants at last week's Social TV Summit, organized by Andy Batkin and co-hosted by Batkin and Jack Myers. The major broadcast and several cable networks were represented, as were distribution and social media firms, many of them in the early stages of development. Social TV advertising will be a $150 to $200 million business in 2011 and a $350 million business in 2012, according to Jack Myers Media Business Report data. Between 2012 and 2020, social TV will generate an aggregate $30 billion in spending by marketers. Networks, content producers and talent, distributors, social media enterprises like Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of early stage digital companies, research suppliers, gaming and commerce developers, and agencies are vying for their piece of this action.
Presenters shared numerous positive case studies and new data -- all pointing to the awesome potential for social media to increase ratings and generate incremental revenues. Facebook's Kay Madati quoted Nielsen data establishing that an increase in social buzz correlates directly with increased ratings. "This is the beginning of seeing there is a relationship between what happens in the social sphere and what happens with ratings." Kevin Conroy, President of Interactive for Univision connected the dots between the recent Latin Grammy Awards being both #1 in the ratings and number one in Social TV activity.
TrendRR, Bluefin and Social Guide shared detailed evidence of the boost social gives to TV ratings, translating into increased revenues for the content producers and distributors. Marc DeBevoise, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Entertainment of CBS Interactive commented on the positive ratings impact of the network's 'Tweet Week' and 'Social Sweeps Week" on CBS's fall season. "Social is driving a ton to traffic to places that we can monetize," he said.
Start-ups and Big Media: Necessary Partners to Grow Social TV
The importance of partner collaboration underscored much of the discussion at the Summit. There's a symbiotic relationship among large media content creators, distributors, advertisers and the VC-funded early stage companies that supply social technologies and tools to them. All groups are dependent upon each other to make Social TV a successful business. Venture capital is shouldering the development costs of Social TV and enabling the active expansion of the business while monetization models are still being worked out. Active collaboration with emerging companies is empowering the large players to integrate social into their organizations and programing, albeit with some challenges, difficulty and disruption of the status quo. However, internal corporate barriers to social TV appear to be collapsing with far less political upheaval than in past technology-driven business transitions. Few executives are questioning the potential power of social TV, as Facebook and Twitter have become de facto standard carriers for the industry. Twitter's Chloe Sladden demonstrated that merely mentioning a Twitter account or hash-tag onscreen can increase chatter up to 10x. Facebook social activity can generate exponential ratings growth as well, said Facebook's Andy Mitchell. USA Network's Psych used Facebook to create massive engagement with the show that really moved the ratings needle, generating 10% growth.
Separation Between 'Lean Back' and 'Lean Forward' is Disappearing
Because the second screen experience is consumer-led, adoption of social TV has been rapid and extraordinarily immersive. According to exclusive new research from Jack Myers Media Business Report, 76% of college-age students 17 to 21 say that while watching TV, they like to engage online with friends and others about the TV shows they're watching.
Today's college students have grown up with the Internet. It's an embedded part of their lives and they expect to be actively engaged online almost all the time, and especially while they are watching TV. The idea of a separation between 'lean back' and 'lean forward' media has all but disappeared among this age group. Second-screen content synchronized with TV and videos has a built-in and already active online audience that is primed to jump in if the content is worthwhile and the technology is simple. This technology already exists from several companies and every leading TV network is producing for multiple screen interplay. Other studies have established that 80% of tablet owners are actively using their tablet while watching TV. 94% of multi-taskers engage in some form of mobile communications while watching TV. Social has been a natural evolution for networks like Viacom's MTV because, says Senior Director of Product Development for MTV & Vh1 Digital Johnson Tang, MTV viewers are pioneers in social.
Organizations Must be Prepared
TV Guide's Christy Tanner emphasized how successful social integrations are getting incorporated into shows at the conceptual show-runner level and that getting social to work requires different parts of companies to work together in ways they haven't previously. Presenters discussed the necessity to coordinate sharing across the enterprise and with partners to ensure winning social integrations. Talent is often being asked to lead the charge, even managing their characters' profiles in social media. Fox Networks credits its talent's involvement manning social media profiles for the great success it's had with the Glee franchise, according to Hardie Tankersley, VP, Social Media & Innovation, FOX Broadcasting. "When you start the digital part of the conversation with advertisers," said Tankersley, "they all want to discuss the social opportunities. I want to make the social experience for viewers when watching Fox better than watching another network.
Freemantle Media's Olivier Delfosse confirmed the organizational struggle to integrate social into its wildly successful X-Factor. To ramp X-Factor's viewership, Freemantle turned to technology partner TVplus to integrate the second screen. For this to work, it required X-Factor producers (who traditionally had keep programming very close to their chests) to share schedules and programming oversight with a partner. For Social TV to succeed, companies, talent and producers need to stretch out of their comfort zones.
Whether it's talking about the weather via The Weather Channel's social applications or NBCUniversal's approach to social, as described by Oxygen Media president Jason Klarman, TV increasingly is integrating viewer conversation into the content. "The wisdom of friends will inform viewing decisions," commented Kay Madati of Facebook, who pointed out that social ushers in an era of content discovery as we turn to our social networks for insights on what to watch.
Is Social TV the Greatest Game Changer for Marketers Since TV?
Social TV may be the greatest game-changer in the advertising and television business since the advances of cable television in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most likely even greater! Its impact will resonate across all networks, studios and producers, talent, digital content developers and program marketers. It will affect the video strategies being developed at magazine publishers like Hearst, Time Inc. and Condé Nast and at newspaper companies like Gannett and Digital First. Marketers and agencies must accelerate their responses to a new communications forum that requires original and organic tactics. New models will need to integrate engagement values into all facets of the development, creation, production, distribution and measurement of video content. Organizational silos will be challenged. The implications of Microsoft's Kinect technology, audio and video recognition capabilities, and the new wave of social, gaming and commerce integration into television and digital video content are difficult to assess. We know we are at the beginning of a tsunami of change in the industry. Unlike past waves of change, the industry this time is doing its best to prepare. The next Social TV Summit , which will continue to explore and track this business, will be in Brussels on March 22, 2012. A Social Gaming Summit is also in the planning stages.
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