Attended a fantastic panel called The Last Broadcast: Entertainment is Social – Now What?Speakers included Brian David Johnson from Intel, Jeffrey Cole from the Annenberg Center for the Future and Gary Wheelhouse, manager of Social Media for Harvey Norman, the largest electronics retailer in Australia. The focus of the talk was how Social Media and emerging technology are transforming the nature of how we interact with entertainment both in and out of our homes.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Social TV involves the use of things like Twitter, Facebook, Augmented Reality and other emerging tech to directly interact with the content you’re watching on TV to the Internet and the world. Google and Intel are squarely in this space and vying for ways to have you not only watch television, but participate in entertainment by having the box in your living room hooked directly to the Internet. MIT’s Technology review named Social TV one of the most important emerging trends of 2010 and multiple outlets have written about the phenomenon including Fast Company in their recent article, I Want My Twitter TV!
According to Paul Farkas, Founder/CEO of Social.TV and Collaborator-In-Residence at Watchitoo.com, “social TV presents a new landscape for entertainment where creatives and brands will tell richer narratives and start conversing with their audience through co-storytelling and co-creation. The timing is perfect as dominant media are converging; consumer electronics are largely connecting; storytellers are embracing transmedia and gaming elements; and the second-screen experience provides a great new canvas for rewired digital natives to ‘multimedia-task’ within this new realm.”
As panelists pointed out during the session, viewership for live events has actually increased in the last few years, largely to the increased adoption of social media. As Jeffrey Cole pointed out, “we’ve always co-viewed shows on TV, but before we had to be in the same room. The lack of an actual audience is why broadcasters originally added laugh tracks to shows. But now, I think instead of having a newsfreed crawl at the bottom of the screen during certain shows, you’ll begin to see Social Networking crawls instead.”
Adoption – Avoiding the Spoilers
Gary Wheelhouse from the company Harvey Norman pointed out why Social TV and the downloading of content has become so popular in Australia. As network reception can be spotty in various regions, people choose to download shows versus watching them live. However, Australians have also become more adept at utilizing social networks for getting information about their favorite shows as they both crave information about American Idol or Survivor but don’t want Yank friends giving away endings to shows.
What Does it Mean to Be Home?
The panel began with a question about the nature of TV and a few of the presenters noted how people used to identify with the notion that when they watched TV they were at home. TV wasn’t available (or sanctioned) at work and not available when travelling. Now with iTunes downloads, TiVo, slingboxes and streaming of Netflix on iPhones, watching content on the go is the norm. Plus, with the advent of gaming and social networking, even when the TV is on at home, more people in your house may be playing the Wii or XBOX than watching a show. Two of the panelists noted that their kids actually swiped their TV screens like they were turning on their iPhones.
Checking into Entertainment
A final focus of the panel was on how more people will likely be “checking in” to entertainment than people who are checking into physical locations at present. As Mashable noted in their article, Why Entertainment Will Drive the Check-In Craze, applications like Miso are starting to take off because people can say, “I’m watching Real Housewives of New Jersey—are you watching?” and emulate the feel of being together as a group virtually. And companies are excited to see how advertising can be placed in these forums that will appeal to viewers while being hyper-directed for their interests.
What do you think? How will TV become more social for you?