Defining the Status of Social TV

Last December, Jesse Redniss, the Chief Strategy Officer at Austin, Texas-based social startup Mass Relevance, penned an article for AdAge that informed readers to “expect more investment” in social TV for the coming year, and offered several positive predictions for the industry.

In late January, Janko Roettgers, a senior journalist for technology news site Gigaom, wrote the opposite in an editorial, stating that the entire concept of social TV “was a bad idea to begin with” and that it was effectively failing.

As the third quarter of 2014 begins, it’s fairly clear at this time which expert seems to have been correct with his examination over the much-disputed topic.

Approximately three to four years ago, Social TV was highlighted by tech researchers as the next big thing. With the popularity of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as second-screen apps, viewers can share and engage with one another in real-time while observing their favorite shows and movies.

At the 86th Academy Awards, host Ellen Degeneres proved that social TV was alive and well when a selfie featuring her with several actors quickly became the most shared tweet on Twitter.

As Redniss prophesized, the overall landscape is indeed consolidating, with the larger companies “grabbing all the toys.”

Twitter is seemingly betting all of their poker chips on success in this industry.

During the week of March 31, 2014, Twitter announced the acquisition of two European television analytics firms – Mesagraph of France and the UK’s SecondSync. The Gallic group is known primarily for a platform that reveals insights from online discussions, and the British business has been recognized for its similar Internet conversation scrutiny.

Twitter has also partnered with companies across the globe – Kantar Media (UK), Video Research (Japan), Nielsen (U.S.) and GFK (Germany, Australia, Netherlands) – to monitor TV audience measurement. They cite their “commitment” to this field, which is a pretty strong endorsement for its future. In addition to Mesagraph and SecondSync, their social portfolio of sorts also includes Trendrr and Bluefin Labs, both bought in 2013.

Continuing along the investment path, Kantar Media just made a purchase of its own, snapping up Barcelona, Spain agency The Data Republic.

This year, many television shows and films have made significant progress on Twitter with the usage of specially crafted hashtags. During Conan O’Brien’s week of broadcasting in Dallas for March Madness, anything related to the TBS “Conan” festivities was mentioned with #ConanDallas. USA Network’s “Psych” aired its series finale after eight seasons on March 26, and the show marked the occasion with #FarewellPysch, which received 136,000 mentions and became the #1 social entertainment program for the evening. Syfy's "Sharknado 2" received 1 billion impressions and was declared the "
most-social movie on TV ever."

Facebook isn’t allowing Twitter to do social TV all by itself, though.

Also in 2014, the website has united with Vizrt and Telescope to construct visual displays of audience engagement and interaction. During the Super Bowl, app company Shazam worked with Facebook to allow ads to be re-targeted to consumers.

The battle for social TV supremacy is on, and the medium is hardly a passing craze. It’s fair to say that society has embraced it.

Author: Brian Cameron

Image credit: Flickr
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