Tech Talk: 9 Things You Should Know About Social TV

January 28, 2013  |  
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Chances are, whether you call it this or not, you’ve participated in some type of Social TV activity. This trend has taken off in recent years, as viewers turn to social media and online tools to discuss television shows and live events. In addition to the major social networks, like Twitter, working to promote social interaction around TV shows, several start-ups, such as GetGlue and Zeebox, have created mobile applications allowing users to connect around whatever shows they are watching.

Many in the entertainment, technology, and social media industries are watching this trend closely right now, so here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the social TV space.



Twitter has been at the forefront of the social TV trend, thanks to its real-time nature. Viewers can talk about a TV show while it’s happening, using hashtags and participating in conversations led by networks. Awards shows have taken advantage of this, bringing the on-air action onto social media, and shows like BET’s 106 and Park even include viewers’ tweets and Twitter conversations during the live show.



While Twitter seems to have the upper hand in social TV conversation, data by Nielsen, conducted for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM), found that Facebook has influence in getting people to tune into a show. Only 29 percent of viewers said they use Facebook to discuss TV shows, 46 percent said they starting watching a show because of opinions they saw on Facebook.


The Voice

NBC’s The Voice leveraged social media in a new way when it debuted in 2011. In addition to encouraging fans to tweet, the singing competition had its celebrity judges and contestants also using social media. Online voting was also a part of the show, which has only increased its social media work in the subsequent two seasons.


Nielsen Gets Into Social TV Measurement

In addition to its traditional television ratings, Nielsen has gotten into the social TV game, partnering with Twitter. In December, the duo announced a new metric for measuring conversations happening on Twitter that revolve around TV shows. The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating is expected to launch in fall of 2013.


Social TV Becomes a Part of the Television Upfronts

Each year, the networks vie for advertiser dollars at the television upfronts, where they showcase the newest shows, and lately, their social media outreach. Over the past couple of years, networks have started to include their plans for Facebook, Twitter, and their online forums and microsites to entice advertisers to buy not only TV time, but also online advertisements.


Consolidation in the Space 

In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and the network-led interactions on their show web pages, there are several social TV mobile applications that allow users to get badges and points, earn rewards, and connect with other people about TV shows. Two of those companies, Viggle and GetGlue, tried to merge in late 2012, but it didn’t go through as planned, while another duo, Miso and Dijit, are close to joining forces. As the social TV space matures, it will be interesting to see which social apps survive and which go the way of Friendster.


Social Campaigns for Shows

So you want some recent examples of what networks and TV shows are actually doing? CBS’ Hawaii 5-0 recently allowed fans to vote on which way an episode would end, while new NBC comedy 1600 Penn hosted a social media cupcake contest, where one winner received a year’s supply of cupcakes. USA Network teamed up with the FBI to launch a “Real Life White Collar Crimes” social media campaign with GetGlue, for its White Collar show, that allows users to participate in solving real-life robberies.

2013 Is The Big Year for Social TV

Naturally, there is a debate in the technology industry about just how social TV will move forward as a trend. In Fortune, start-up investor Jack D. Hidery called 2013 the year of social TV, highlighting the work companies such as Twitter and Nielsen have done to prepare for continued growth.

Others Think It’s Dying

On the other side, Simon Dumenco, in Ad Age, proclaimed the end of social TV, noting that social TV as an activity will go the way of social media in general. It won’t be anything special, just end up as a part of day-to-day life. What do you think? How will this trend evolve? Do you use social media to discuss TV and live events?

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