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Why There’s a Growing Emphasis on Social TV

social TV

Social networks are trying to become more TV-like and transition to producing episodic content. Why? Live video is changing the face of television. Additionally, as a new research report put out by Facebook explains, TV consumption behaviours are changing. With that in mind, let’s discuss the phenomenon of social TV.

Shifting Consumption Behaviours & Facebook

The aforementioned research from Facebook highlights changing TV viewing patterns and explains just why social networks are putting so much emphasis on video. Billions of people view videos daily. Social media owns the ever-important 18-33 year old demographic (howbow dah?) who are spending less and less time in front of a TV and more hours watching videos on their mobiles or laptops. It’s very evident that video programming resonates well with this key audience.

Millions of people now use smartphones and tablets to share their TV experience with other viewers on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. A recent study by eMarketer notes that by 2018, 91% of internet users are expected to be using the internet while watching TV. Clearly, the two activities are becoming synonymous. Television networks are sharing more and more video clips on social platforms in the hopes of driving more people to tune in and to monetize engagement.

social TV

Younger audiences don’t rely on TV networks to dictate what TV they consume. Streaming providers offer a more open and accessible experience.

social TV

If there has been a major shift in consumption behaviour, why not merge the two services – TV and social – into one, right? In the early years of social TV, money was mostly being spent on social TV apps. The companies who created these apps, which featured things like TV listings and stickers, struggled to move users away from platforms like Facebook and have since gone out of business or been acquire. Now, the focus is on activities of the social media channels themselves (think Snapchat Discover) and the tech that supports them.

Google has a new YouTube viewing experience, YouTube TV. Twitter emphasizes live-streamed content. Snap has a deal with VICE for original Snapchat programming. Hulu is launching a live TV service in May. These are just a few examples of the bigger brands who have hopped on the social TV bandwagon.

But of them all, Facebook is probably the best suited to become the forerunner of the whole social TV phenomenon. (Nielsen has also already added Facebook to its social TV ratings.) There is already way more social discussions and activity about TV shows on Facebook than on other platforms. It makes sense that Facebook would want incorporate more video on its platform.

The past few years have seen changes to Facebook’s algorithms that enhance how it serves videos to users. Facebook also launched video auto play so users would watch videos in their feeds. By 2015, we had Facebook Suggested Videos which brought related videos and ads to anyone who clicks on a bide. Since then, we’ve seen the success of Facebook mentions and the branded Facebook Live (live video stream broadcasting) and an aggressive push to work with TV networks and producers. Media organizations including Buzzfeed and the New York Times have signed deals with the social network to produce Live content. No doubt, the social giant will continue to bet big on live-streaming.

Impact of Live Video

Many brands are making the most of live video by putting their CEOs in front of the camera or taking viewers behind the scenes. Others are creating original content that has the appeal of a live TV show but with real-time mass audience participation. It’s an entirely new use of live video and an opportunity not strictly for brands. People in television are beginning to see the potential.

Recently, the first live, interactive talk show produced online with real live input form the audience launched. The Never Settle Show is available online as well as Amazon, Apple TV, and Roku. Rather than creating another run-of-the-mill cable show, Mario Armstrong has built a new kind of experience, a meeting between social media and television.

Production meetings are broadcast on Facebook Live. Viewers can send in their questions and suggestions and vote on what direct the show should take. They can clue the producers into what they actually want, instead of the producers making decisions and hoping that audiences like the results. Giving the audience a say in the themes and direction of the show is a revolution in entertainment.

During the actual broadcast of the show, the audience can submit questions which are then passed along to the guests, further ensuring the viewers are hearing information the want to hear. Viewers can communicate via Skype to boot. And all this is done in a real TV studio, with a real TV studio audience and multiple cameras. It has the high production value of a professional TV show with the added benefit of live audience input.


You can expect more social TV shows to begin popping up on the interwebs in the near future!

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