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Key Themes from the Social TV Summit

By Sirpa Aggarwal | Posted on April 08, 2012

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Social TV Summit in San Francisco on April 3 hosted lively panel discussions and presentations by executives from many leading brands in the Social TV space. Here is a summary of the key themes that emerged from the presentations and discussions.


Social TV Industry

Social TV industry is still relatively new, yet polling at the event showed that the majority believes the space has already too many players, and it’s ripe for some consolidation. On the other hand, the majority also believed that there are still opportunities in the space for innovative companies.

Social TV is not just something that happens. The industry needs to keep innovating to find out what are the best platforms for different ways of engagement. Technology is driving the innovation, and TV networks are among the key players in this new disruptive technology landscape with their ability to meet the scale demands. Social TV second-screen experiences in the meantime provide the audience engagement platform for the shows.

Social TV Industry Segmentation

Some industry segmentation is apparent. Vendors like Shazam are building engaging apps with exclusive content that drives engagement. Then there are TV networks and companies like WWE, who are building second-screen Social TV experiences around their shows on their own sites and apps. There are also social brands, like Pepsi, who have partnered with TV networks. Andrea Harrington from Pepsi spoke about how Pepsi has been able to successfully leverage its brand marketing expertise and experience to provide highly engaging user experiences around ‘The X Factor USA.’

Social TV Viewers

Social TV viewers are engaged, and demand quality content that is relevant. They are used to multi-tasking across multiple platforms on multiple devices. This is especially applicable with youth and the younger generations. This multitasking has extended to TV. Meanwhile, social media usage has exploded on mobile, having increased by 600% in the last two years, according to Deirdre Bannon from Nielsen. She added that almost 90% of those owning a tablet use them while watching TV.

Christy Tanner from TV Guide spoke about the underlying need people have to connect and interact with each other other. This is highly relevant for TV networks, because people also have the power through social media to influence what shows the networks decide to broadcast. TV shows drive emotion, and social media has provided the platform for viewers to engage and interact with each other, and with the TV shows and their casts.

The casts and stars of the TV shows are naturally curious to know what viewers are saying about them on Facebook and Twitter, and they follow fans’ tweets and posts very closely. This fan feedback also gives them ideas for making their shows better. For example, ‘The X Factor USA’ celebrity judge Simon Cowell has been known to modify the content of the shows based on fan feedback from social media.

Social TV Research and Analytics

Social TV research and analytics is emerging as an important part of the industry, helping, for example, brands gauge which TV shows generate the most buzz, what is the mood and sentiment of viewers, and what is driving viewers. The networks are very interested in this data, since increased social media buzz is directly related to TV show ratings. Data from Nielsen shows that 9% increase in buzz translates into 1% increase in ratings.

The shows with the most social audience are the shows that also generate the most buzz on social media networks. Jason Hoch from WWE spoke about this, and gave as an example ‘Wrestlemania XXVIII.’ The show generated more social media buzz than the NCAA Final Four.


The Social TV space is new, but dynamic, and evolving fast. Some key players have already emerged across different segments in the industry. Technological development continues to facilitate innovation across the board, while TV networks together with brands are working to develop new, better ways to engage the Social TV viewer.

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