Social TV 2.0
October 10, 2012, TVNext Conference, Santa Clara, CA—A panel considered the issues relating to multi-screen and social Web co-existing with TV programs. Jeremy Toeman from Dijit Media moderated. The panel members included Jesse Redniss form USA Network, Ellen Stone form Bravo, Anne-Marie Roussel Illuminate Ventures, and Allan McLennan from the Padem Group.
The challenges in keeping viewers' attention can be easy or hard depending upon your efforts and ability to cross platforms.
Redniss offered social integration with media allows part of the story to be on Twitter or other media. This can be very engaging.
Roussel demurred that they are not in the same space, social is more like a kiosk that stands alone and offers something similar. There is a lot of friction at the consumer level, making social TV a question. There are many discovery issues.
No one calls it social TV?
Redniss offered that it is just TV with multiple screens.
McLennan retorted that the platform owner owns the audience, so anyone else has to create a viable business model that includes 2-way communications with the content, ads and other messages.
Implicit method of discovery from peers? Much activity is not at the time of the show?
Redniss proposed that the content owner has to have experience with transmedia to make the social TV become a total social experience.
Roussel asked what is working? Most people are still looking for content. Nothing exists that works for consumers, because the responses for any single program are measured in thousands of people and not the millions that are actually watching.
What does it take to get the numbers closer together?
McLennan noted that other parts of the world are doing better. For example, Skye has a zombie show that has millions of viewers who navigate, engage, and dissect the content. Ads are a significant part of the total package.
Roussel responded that most channels are serving an app versus what people really want. There is not enough pull because the technology is ahead of the market. This is similar to the French Minitel experiment that ate a lot of Francs, but never took off.
Stone agreed, but stated any show needs ads to pay for the production. The industry needs this to be like a marriage to get the ad dollars and sponsorships into the show. The issue is how to insert ads so the consumers can enjoy them. The same issue permeates webisodes and other platforms that don't have an organic base.
Lots of startup friction, but the audiences are not in Facebok or Twitter.
McLennan offered that the demographics show a cultural shift. However, the networks need to grow the viewer engagement or try to pull the viewers into the TV show. The industry cannot exchange one audience for another.
Two boxes, with the second screen for social. What are the viewers really doing?
Redniss stated that the social components are geared to drive live viewing. The technologies to capture dialog for context search is available. This content is mixed and integrated with other content in real time. This second screen is a platform to drive viewership and promotions.
Stone added that the companion app on a second box enhances the live content.
Roussel pondered that the 2-box format is interesting. The key is to do studies and network with startups who can help monetize other content and increase engagement. Other companies can synchronize various feeds to increase engagement which leads to more ad dollars.
McLennan noted that is all comes down to the ability to integrate platforms. In other areas like India, they are going more of this type of integration.
Content has a conflict with the attention on the main screen versus the second screen?
Redniss stated that viewership is increasingly fragmented, so they need to present content in 2-3 slots and correlate the second screen content with the show. Users need to be trained.
Stone offered that their studies show the behavior includes 1-2 e-mails within an hour while watching TV. The second screen users didn't walk away from the TV, so it is easier to hold their attention. Increased engagement leverages the multiscreen experience and provides positive results.
Roussel objected that training consumers is a problem. Instead consider what they want, how do they want to get it, and figure out a way to hook them with existing behavior modes.
Redniss answered that the psychology for change depends upon the person. You have to experiment to find a resonance, then do some simple on-line training for the newer modes.
Stone interjected it is important to know how to build content and move it into a transmedia format. Each platform has to be the key to the other platform, so change requires attention to behavior, digital assets, and the underlying TV show.
Redniss added that the networks are heavily invested in the episodes. Web traffic spiked after a webisode and VoD. The digital content is not a part of the linear stream.
McLennan stated that all the digital content is ancillary. Therefore it is complicated and not in real time.
Many viewers are not watching live TV. Catch-up TV is a growing segment that is not part of the normal feedback loop. This viewing pattern lets people lose the urgency to watch now?
Roussel stated that consumers often go into catch up mode when they heard of a show from friends. A TV listing that is based on what friends recommend makes the source and time irrelevant.
McLennan pointed out that this type of service exists in the UK. The various exchanges help providers focus on the audience. These services help the market with information about programming.
Stone added that this type of service needs to measure all platforms.
Rossel agreed that measurements are the key. Learning how to engage, when, etc. are a gold mine of information.
Coolest thing learned?
Redniss responded that it is hard to connect with actors to change the story. 20,000 people signed up with Facebook to be part of the show. The breakdown was mostly older women, but the on-line population was mostly 18-34-year old women. Of the 300,000 people who signed up, 74 percent were women.
VoD and catch up help?
Stone answered that there is no direct correlation but some increases showed up.
Redniss offered that for "Breaking Bad" the social element greatly increased overall viewership. Catch up helps the current season and the social component lets people share their experiences with others.
Roussel suggested that analytics matter. Companies like Bluefin and Trender are developing methods to assess the impact of the various media offerings through things like sentiment analysis of tweets. Lots of new companies are working on analysis of content on social media.
McLennan stated that there are other trackers. People want to see changes in the story outcomes, so some form of feedback is important. The big issue is how to deliver the feedback to the programmers and writers. The anonymity of analytics can help.
Words of wisdom?
Roussel suggested getting out of the office and talk to people to find out what they want.
Redniss counseled don't build something to solve a business problem, instead fill a consumer thirst.
Stone considered drive the conversation and use the social ideas to create scale.
McLennan proposed deliver intelligence and fill needs. Ads and programming are part of a destination.
Transmedia, storytelling across platforms. When will it hit 50 percent of programming ?
Stone said that transmedia in not the same as a second screen. Story telling across platforms takes lots of resources and coordination. Current efforts are very low, so 50 percent will take at least 2 years. Current effort might be in the 20 percent range.
Redniss added that you have to start from day 1 to integrate all media. You have to have the right consumer base, people who want to engage, and internal experience in the format. The issue is how much time and effort to put into transmedia. You want as much as possible, bue the resources are limited.
Roussel opined that CBS might have lots of opportunities and over 20 percent of their shows already are multi-screen.
Young people move to TV when they age. It's an escape, hence train wreck TV.
Roussel responded that this is for US consumers.
Stone added that their brand represents content. the context is line limited, so they have to look at the other platforms like mobile, tablets, and on-line
McLennan appended this is the definition of TV. Connected TV is the second screen already or the source for other choices.
Roussel continued that TV is like cable in the '80's, when disintegration happened. Social efforts in TV have to move a multi-billion dollar industry into other platforms, so it will take time. Differentiation will provide an opportunity for change to the virtual water cooler.