As my old mate James Warren pointed out, there’s nothing new in social TV. Television’s been social since the day the first little goggle box flickered into life. It’s social when you watch it; it’s social when you discuss it with friends, family and relations after watching it. But surely it’s undeniable that in the age of social media, the ‘socialness’ of television is changing?
Let’s face it, Twitter‘s got a huge amount to do with the change. Micro-blogging is the perfect platform for quick comments about whatever it is you’re watching. Twitter’s the ultimate banter app. I think it really became obvious to a lot of people during the recent series of X-Factor (as highlighted by Wadds). Quite often during the show – certainly in the latter stages of the series – five of the top ten trending topics on Twitter related to X-Factor. Twiiter+X-Factor was a whole different ball game. As I tweeted at the time, it was like having yur mates round to watch without having to give them any booze (which some might understandably think is a bit sad).
X-Factor is one massively successful TV show. Twitter’s a hugely positive social media app. But details aside, the fact is this: the ability to easily communicate in realtime with your extended social network while watching the same thing on the box has some significant implications. It has implications for programming, scheduling, revenue generation, advertising, audience engagement. Take this neat little post from Dirk Singer (inspired, I believe, by Anna Hardman). In a world of Sky+ where the relevance of TV scheduling was thought to have completely disappeared, will social TV drive us back to watching everything at the same time? No chance o skip through the ads there…in fact we’re as likely to be tweeting about them as the programme itself (which presents a nice research opportunity for brands and advertising agencies).
2010 has the potential to be a huge year in social TV. From a programming perspective there’ll be loads on that will provide the necessary polarisation of views that helps drive tha chat. Think UK general election (the live TV debates announced today will be fantastic social TV events) and World Cup for starters. The adoption of social media will become more and more pervasive. And we’ll start to see the ‘single-screen’ combination of TV programmes and social media applications (like this). It’ll also be something that people simply enjoy, adding to the traditional TV experience.
There are a million different angles to the potential and implicatons of social TV. I’ve been thinking about them over the past few weeks, and have come across a number of people who are also really interested. There’s Wadds, Dirk and Anna, as mentioned, but also Stephen Davies and Ben Ayers at ITV (who’s immersed in this stuff for a living). We might even get Warren involved. I’m hoping that they’ll all contribute to the discussion here. We won’t have all the answers. Hell, we don’t know what all the questions are yet. But we’ll have some thoughts that we’ll throw out there and enjoy getting into the conversation. Do join in. I’m also keen that it isn’t a conversation that only happens in the ether, so we may well meet up for a chat over dinner at some point (if we can drag ourselves away from the telly of course). Let me know if you fancy getting involved.