Social TV

TV is ‘dead’, long live social TV!

Old TVThe death of television has been imminent for years now … apparently. But I sincerely hope evolution does not equal death.

Broadband, Netflix, Hulu and the plethora of other sources of ‘broadcast’ entertainment are not killing television. They are reviving it, and giving it a new, 21st century flavour. Yes, we watch television shows and movies on our phones, tablets and notebooks now, and many of us ‘multi-screen’ in front of the ‘old-school’ LCD television screen. But that’s not the death of television. It’s the birth, or evolution, of social TV.

‘What the heck is social TV?’, you may ask. It’s nothing too complex. It’s television and social media coming together. We tweet, Facebook and Instagram away as we watch our favourite television shows, and that’s ‘social TV’. Or anti-social TV, if you ask the person sitting next to you on the couch while you are twittering away.

As far back as 2010, MIT Technology Review named social TV one of the top 10 technology trends to watch, and in 2011 Wired also named social TV a significant trend to watch in its top 6 technology trends list. Despite its significance the trend did slip under the radar, largely because it’s such a ubiquitous extension of the triumph of global social media.

NielsenNielsen, an American-based firm which measures media audiences, noted that in 2013, 44% of Australian television viewers engaged in posting social media comments or reading others’ comments about the television content they were viewing, an increase of 7% from the previous year. In the US, 36 million people sent 990 million tweets about television in the same year.

Since late 2014, Nielsen measures the audience reach of Twitter conversations about television shows and related engagement levels in Australia, and the numbers indicate that social TV is big. For example, Nielsen data shows that in October 2014, 1.2 million television related tweets were sent by Australians, generating 97.5 million views and that the 2014 NRL Grand Final alone generated 75,000 tweets and 8.4 million views.

Twitter is now also directly engaging with brands, broadcasters and media companies through its TV x Twitter, leveraging Twitter’s popularity with television audiences as a social TV forum.

Loved it or hated it (I hated it), Gogglebox Australia on Channel Ten was a physical manifestation of the social TV trend.

Television is not dead, or dying. Television is evolving with the culture that surrounds it. I predict it will be around for a very, very long time, although the way it is delivered, and consumed will continue to change.

‘Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’
A popular misquote of a line attributed to American author and humorist Mark Twain after his obituary was mistakenly published by the New York Journal.

Some have already predicted, or rather announced, the death of social TV too. But, by ‘social TV’ they mean the various social networks, apps and other tools that were developed specifically for social TV, over and above the established social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook.

It is clear now there was little appetite by viewers for stepping outside their existing, and preferred, social networks to engage with social TV. Who could blame them for not wanting to add an extra layer of complexity to their already busy social media lives?

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