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Social TV: You’re not “Home Alone” Anymore!

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There has been a lot of buzz and hype surrounding Social TV. But, TV was always social—wasn’t it? Remember the days when our family sat in front of the TV to watch a weekend movie or a Super Bowl? We used to root for our favorite actors and players. It was easier to express emotions and share opinions in real time. Today the TV still exists, but the audience is scattered. The same movies are shown on TV, and the Super Bowl is still being telecast right in the living room but, the viewing experience has changed!

With the advent of Internet—and more so with the likes of Facebook and Twitter—the word “Social” has become much in ‘vogue’. And if you thought the internet has killed TV, there’s some good news for you – both have become very good friends. More and more people in America are watching television than ever before, and engaging in online activities at the same time. They update Facebook and chat about the program they are watching. Well, this is called “Social TV”. Are you not socializing while watching TV? So the essence of socializing is still the same; only the medium has changed.

Social TV refers to the technologies, surrounding television, that promote communication and social interaction related to program content. Social TV can leverage diverse technologies—like text chat, voice communication, TV recommendations, ratings, context awareness, etc.—so that users can share, view and experience the same show, movie or game on TV with their friends.

Social TV is also an opportunity for content producers and TV operators to offer new services and increase revenue by studying the consumers’ TV-related social behavior, devices and networks. The networks would have an improved ability to understand broader audience engagement and affinity for TV shows. In turn, this data could be harnessed to drive greater tune-ins, boost viewer loyalty, optimize marketing promotions, and increase ad revenue. On the other hand, advertisers could better evaluate the value created by social media around their commercial placements or product integrations. These findings could be used to gather information on the shows or genres that drive more social conversations and create a buzz about a brand. This in turn would help in improving the return on traditional ad buys.

Social TV has actually created the need for greater user interactivity without going to an external source. This need has led to the emergence of the Second Screen—a term that refers to an additional electronic device (e.g. tablet, smartphone) that allows a television audience to interact with the content they are consuming.

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