Posts tagged TV’s
The television industry knows full well that the TV isn’t the only screen viewers are watching at home. Smartphones and tablets mean Twitter and Facebook activity—and lots of social mentions generally means higher ratings. (And, perhaps, vice versa.)
Most of us aren’t ever just watching TV anymore. Before we strategically position ourselves on the couch, we position smartphones, laptops or tablets within reach. Perhaps we are even watching on these devices themselves—which makes the switch between streaming shows and live Twitter feeds a little more difficult.
Live-tweets, hashtags and mentions are the premiere link to connecting avid TV fans to their beloved programs and characters. Producers and advertisers as well are able to monitor immediate feedback about what is and is not working. By providing online-only photos and video extras and getting their talent to interact with fans, TV knows exactly what the viewership wants and just how to serve it to them.
With reports that Facebook is drawing in more 18-24 year olds during prime-time hours than the four major networks, television execs are making serious efforts to capitalize on the advertising reach the social network giant presents. Facebook released its own statistics about the on-site public conversations occurring during prime time hours, reporting that between 88 million and 100 million Americans are using Facebook’s second screen during peak viewing. The Game of Thrones ”Red Wedding” episode garnered 1.5 million Facebook mentions alone.
Social data analytics site Trendrr has unveiled a study in partnership with Facebook analyzing second-screen Facebook activity during a week in May. The study reports that Facebook user’s engagement with television was five times as much activity than all other social networks combined.
Nielsen and Social Guide release a daily data set that collects the top 10 most-tweeted-about shows from the previous night. They report that for premiere episodes, an 8.5% increase in Twitter activity correlates with a 1% increase in program ratings for adults 18-34 years old.
In this chart from the week of July 21-28, the most-tweeted spot is taken by MTV’s Catfish with an astounding 536,309 tweets:
TV’s Social Strategies #socialshows
Of course, separating cause from effect here isn’t easy. You’d expect more popular shows to have broader social followings; similarly, a growing social following could boost viewership by drawing in its members’ friends and followers. But whether one causes the other, or whether both phenomena stem from a show’s underlying popularity (or lack thereof) remains much harder to discern.
That hasn’t stopped Hollywood, of course.
Networks are taking note of the second-screen phenomenon, recognizing that social networking follows viewers even when an episode has finished airing, a season has wrapped, and the TV is turned off. Producers who have made the transition into social media understand its benefits of creating dialogue and keeping viewers satiated with photos, videos and behind-the-scenes extras. The point is to retain interest, knowing that if excitement is generated online, it will be manifested in the ratings.
Here are three shows whose smart and persistent social media strategies have earned their ranks in the top five most-Tweeted shows from July 21-28.
After Season 1 of VH1’s Love and Hip Hop became a social media darling in the summer of 2012, plans to accelerate Season 2’s social traffic went into high gear. Web series spin-off Check Yourself amassed 1.7 million streams and birthed a Love and Hip Hop ATL Social Leaderboard, a summary of the show’s social performance tracked across various platforms. Various episodes of the show accumulated between 206,566 to 640,637 unique tweets, and mobile activity following the April 2013 premiere showed a 49% increase from last year. Ratings followed suit—by the wrap of the Season 2 finale, Love and Hip Hop dominated the Monday night cable slot.
MTV’s Teen Wolf has a well-known track record of intense and effective social engagement. After the wrap of Season 2, Teen Wolf instituted The Hunt, a Facebook-scripted social game that spanned eight weeks, a lengthy project during the show’s break to quench the thirst of rabid AlphaPack fans. This game helped Facebook Likes on the Teen Wolf page shoot up by a whopping 127%.
Another fandom-driven television show is ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, whose four main actors are active on Twitter, often replying to fans or posting behind-the-scenes photos or videos on set. Much like Teen Wolf’s The Hunt, the ABC Family drama released a web series aptly titled Pretty Dirty Secrets that ran during their break after the Season 3 finale.
The TV-watching experience has become a social package deal for the millions who live hashtag their viewing. Second screen apps have taken this and wrapped it neatly in a bow.
GetGlue allows users to “check into” a show they are watching in order to access the show’s “feed,” a thread where other viewers can post comments, pictures, quotes, and video. ABC Family posts everything from videos of the latest story arc, to announcements of actor’s live tweets on the Pretty Little Liars GetGlue page. Actors engaging with fans on social media has become a primary way to get viewers excited and participating.
The CW Now app combines both the social and viewing experience by allowing users to watch a show and browse at the same time. The incorporation of commentary to the playback feature is social engagement at its easiest, as viewers are able to watch a show on the same platform where they comment, Tweet, and create conversation. Taking out the middle man of separate screens makes interaction a simple, one-step process.
The symbiotic relationship between TV show and fan is this: producers use social media to talk to their viewers, and vice versa. A pretty simple method, really, but the consistent ratings numbers for social heavy shows proves this method is doing it right.
Lead and GetClue images courtesy Alloy Productions, Arrow image courtesy CW Network.
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According to Mike Proulx, the Internet has become TV’s best friend. Proulx, the opening keynote speaker at SES New York 2013, will explain how you can reach and engage audiences by connecting TV to the web, social media, and mobile.
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AirPlay – the wireless screen-mirroring feature that allows people to beam video from their iPhones and iPads to their televisions is by far the best feature of Apple TV. Google just borrowed the concept. And that’s awesome. It would be even more awesome if it did a better job of matching all of AirPlay’s capabilities.
A Good Steal
Google TV users who own Android smartphones and tablets can now pair the devices together and beam YouTube videos between them without any additional accessories or tinkering required, according to GigaOm and others. It was possible to do this before, but the new feature eliminates an extra step, which makes all the difference when forging a user-friendly Web TV experience, which has to compete with the simple, turn-it-on-and-watch approach enjoyed by traditional TV viewers.
Unfortunately, Google’s version of AirPlay isn’t anywhere near as robust as what Apple offers. For now, it’s limited to YouTube videos, whereas Apple lets users mirror their device’s entire screen to the TV, allowing for any tablet-compatible content to be watched on the big screen.
When we talk about smartphones and tablets in the living room, we tend to think of them as “second screen” devices, which are used to multitask. Viewers use apps like GetGlue and Miso to “check in” to shows while Shazam, i.TV and others layer in supplementary content from around the Web. Then there are the social TV apps like Yap.tv and the rest of them. All told, the second screen is a crowded place with a rising tide of tablet and smartphone apps vying for viewers’ increasingly fractured attention.
Mobile Devices As Content Command Centers
With AirPlay and Google’s answer to it, these devices cease to be second screens and instead serve as a central source of content. That’s not to suggest that TV watchers won’t use a third device to multitask, tweet and read up on TV-related trivia. But in many cases, the second screen is actually going to blend seamlessly with the first one.
This is a postive step for Android and Google TV users. And it will be a big win if Google is able to extend this capability beyond just YouTube videos. Google doesn’t reveal the number of Google TV activations, but a third party estimate from early this year suggests the userbase is not overwhelming.
Why I Love AirPlay
Personally, I use AirPlay constantly, streaming videos from any iPad app my heart desires. That means I can watch live news from Al Jazeera or my local ABC affiliate. It means I can watch the videos I save for later using Boxee’s browser bookmarklet and iPad app and I can see videos my friends (and other tastemaker) are sharing using ShowYou. And that’s just the beginning.
Layer all of that on top of Hulu Plus, Netflix and Apple’s podcast directory, and I’ve got an incredibly robust selection of entertainment on my hands, all without the need for a cable subscription. Factor in Google’s major push toward original, premium video content on YouTube, and you can start to see where the cable industry’s model might start to weaken down the line.
Google’s not all the way there yet, so let’s hope the company keeps improving its version of AirPlay to include all the content you play on your Android device. We could change the role of television to nothing more than a big display screen for our mobile devices. That would truly be awesome.
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Web video is finally growing up. The family behind the wildly viral “Charlie Bit My Finger” YouTube video is getting its own professional Web series, according to PaidContent. The 2007 video spawned parody clips, fan sites, mobile apps, and $500,000 in revenue – for starters.
The ferment around infant Charlie’s mandibular prowess (and his brother Harry’s misfortune) captured the attention of Viral Spiral and Rightster, who are teaming up to produce professional-grade Web videos based on what is now the most widely-viewed amateur video in the history of YouTube.
Whether or not a funny viral video can be transformed into a successful series remains to be seen, but it’s an experiment worth undertaking to those looking to monetize Web video. Hopes are high that Charlie’s winning performance will translate well into a more formal production. But it may prove tricky. After all, the original video exploded after Howard Davies-Carr, the boys’ father, uploaded it to share with relatives. That this authentic, adorable moment between two brothers accidentally captured the attention of millions of Web viewers may have simply been a byproduct of the video’s spontaneous nature. That success may or may not be something that can be replicated under professional lighting in front of real cameras.
It’s not the first time a Web content phenomenon has resulted in a foray into more professionally-produced mass media. Few can forget lonelygirl15, the YouTube-based “video blogger” who was outed as an actress and went on to star in a scripted Web series. Over the years, popular Tumblr blogs have been turned into books and the Shit My Dad Says Twitter account landed on CBS as a sitcom in 2010. The next year, that show was canceled, demonstrating that the transition from new media sensation to old media hit doesn’t always go smoothly.
The Web’s Premium Video Push
News of the Charlie Bit My Finger video series comes at a pivotal time in online video. YouTube itself has been investing heavily in original, TV-quality content, announcing just this morning plans to add 50 new channels to its original line-up. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have been making similar moves toward content that rivals television in quality and, they hope, value to advertisers. Hulu kicked off 2012 by investing $200 million in original programming. In Februrary, the online TV service premiered “Battleground,” its first scripted, original TV series just as Netflix launched a Web-only drama called “Lilyhammer.” Since then, the list of forthcoming original programs from the likes of Hulu, Netflix and YouTube has grown on what feels like a monthly basis. Next year, the model will face an interesting test when the beloved “Arrested Development” returns for a long-awaited new season, not on Fox where it originally aired, but exclusively on Netflix.
This premium Web TV movement aims to slowly build itself into a counterweight to the traditional pay TV business model of cable and satellite, which has been slow to unravel under the weight of pressure from the rise of Internet-fueled cord cutting. Web-first TV is still a relatively young trend, with tech companies only beginning to funnel cash into original content initiatives. It may be sometime before we know whether the new model has legs, but Internet companies are betting big on the prospect that things will work out. Charlie, for one, is banking on it.
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No longer content to just help you confirm that, yes, the song you’re hearing is the new Justin Bieber single, Shazam is branching out. The music identification and discovery app is expanding its social TV capabilities and solidifying its role in the second-screen space. Unlike many new-media initiatives, it might even have a viable business model ready to go.
The company claims to be able to recognize just about any U.S. television show based on a quick sample of its audio. From there, delivers up relevant trivia, cast information, social streams and other content. All of this is typical fare for second-screen apps, but Shazam’s twist is interesting because it uses audio fingerprinting to identify what’s being watched and then present related material.
Shazam, which now has a quarter billion users, is best known for identifying songs using a quick audio snippet recorded through the microphone of a user’s smartphone or tablet. The app’s audio fingerprinting and matching technology can identify tracks even through the noise of a loud bar, and it can distinguish between two songs played simultaneously. Based on what it identifies, it lets users read the artist’s bio, buy the song from iTunes, find concert tickets and read the lyrics to verify that, indeed, the lead singer of Train just sang those words, in that order.
From ID’ing Songs To ID’ing TV Shows
Shazam’s lastest push brings this same functionality to television shows. Users can tap the record button in the app to take an audio sample and Shazam will match what it hears against its own database to identify the show. This is neat and all, but the real potential lies in what happens next. As it does with songs, Shazam unlocks all kinds of supplementary content and information about the show.
These are the kinds of things people are already doing in other apps by manually tapping a show listing or check-in button, but in this case the action is performed using audio. That removes a little bit of friction. It also capitalizes on an established user-machine interaction: People who have used Shazam are already accustomed to holding up their phone to learn more about content, whereas tapping the check-in button on an app like GetGlue or Miso may not come as naturally.
Social TV With A Business Plan
The social TV market – especially the second-screen phenomenon – is exploding as smartphones and tablets proliferate. Eighty-six percent of U.S. smartphone owners use their phones while watching TV at least once a month, according to Nielsen. Tablet owners are even more immersed in their devices while watching TV. Most are checking email and browsing the Web, but a growing audience is looking up content and trivia related to what’s on the bigger screen and chatting with others via Twitter, Facebook, and TV-specific social services like GetGlue. With each new major TV event, we see a flood of new stats about how second screens and social networks are tied in. From the premiere of Breaking Bad to the 2012 Summer Olympics, big TV moments are seeing big second-screen stats. In almost every case, the numbers are climbing.
Shazam’s shift into this space is yet another sign of social TV’s huge potential. And it’s not just a shoot-first, figure-out-a-biz-plan-later kind of strategy. There’s a real revenue opportunity right up front. Through a partnership with Delivery Agent, Shazam offers viewers the opportunity to buy merchandise related to a given show.
This is powerful stuff. Rather than try and work in some ad-related business model over time (or just hope they get acquired), Shazam takes consumers from watching a TV show to paying real money to buy things. For consumers, it cuts out several manual steps – making note of a product they see on TV, going to the appropriate website or store, recalling the item and pulling out a credit card to purchase it. For Shazam and its media partners, it offers a monetization scheme that other legacy media industries would kill for.
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NBC, CBS, ABC: Watch out, Google has you in its sights. If the company has its way, viewers looking to follow the U.S. elections won’t tune in to network and cable news outlets – they’ll log on to YouTube.
To achieve this, the company launched the YouTube Election Hub, a multi-sourced video channel designed to aggregate coverage and commentary from across media outlets old and new. Alongside clips from the likes of ABC News, Al Jazeera, Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed is a curated feed of videos from other sources. YouTube will also be streaming debates and other important election-related events live from this landing page.
In 2008, Net-centric viewers could stream the presidential debates from a laptop hooked up to one’s TV, but not in a particularly elegant fashion. This year, debates and other key events will all be housed on YouTube’s new politics channel, which can be accessed from the browser, AirPlayed to an Apple TV or viewed on any of the native YouTube apps for Boxee, Apple TV or Roku. For cord-cutting Americans who just jumped through hoops to watch the Summer Olympics, the election season should be relatively painless.
But Google’s plan promises to be much more than that: It may be a glimpse of the post-television future. Funneling everything onto one page potentially will give viewers a 360-degree view of November’s elections, candidates and issues. By collecting a range of sources and perspectives in a single hub on a very popular site, YouTube will break down the institutional and ideological barriers have have historically existed between outlets.
It sounds Quixotic, but if anyone can beat the networks at their own game, it’s the Google/YouTube colossus. By virtue of its size and relationships with content owners, YouTube stands uniquely positioned to make a major impact. Television is still very much dominant, to be sure. But YouTube has been aggressively repositioning itself to compete more directly with traditional TV, and it has already eclipsed radio as a source of free music among U.S. teens. Depending on how viewers react, the elections may end up being a referendum not only on the state of union, but on the future of television.
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The Internet was supposed to change everything. Television would be turned on its head, and big cable would be screwed – finally.
TV is different now, to be sure, and those changes will continue for some time. But the Web-destroys-cable narrative many hoped to see isn’t quite playing out that way. Recent moves by content providers, cable companies and ISPs aim to ensure that that storyline never comes to fruition.
The tension between traditional content providers and the Web’s new model of distribution is nothing new. Networks have begun to rethink the practice of making new episodes available online for free, while some of the most coveted premium content (see HBO Go) remains locked behind the gate of a cable subscription.
Last week, word surfaced that Hulu may require a cable or satellite subscription in the future, a prospect that would effectively bring an end to one of the most promising – and popular – sources of TV content on the Web, or at least transform it into something very different.
The news, which was reported by the New York Post, hasn’t been substantiated. But if it’s true, it marks the strongest sign yet that big content isn’t ready to abandon its traditional distribution and revenue models for something that, while more innovative, is still largely unproven.
Fine, one might argue, take away Hulu; we’ll just go back to pirating TV shows. Not so fast. This summer, the major ISPs in the United States will begin cracking down on users of BitTorrent and other file-sharing networks. The new policy, which was unsurprisingly championed by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, will track users who share files via P2P networks and begin asking them to stop. Six warnings later, users will face punitive measures.
The Web’s Secret Weapon: Original Programming
While huge, traditional media companies plan to clamp down both on legally available content and less legal means of acquiring it, other trends in digital content are beginning to shape the future. For one, online video providers are growing up and realizing that they can’t rely exclusively on cheap, user-generated video, nor can they bank solely on traditional providers for premium content.
Hulu, Netflix and YouTube have all poured substantial quanities of money into producing original, Web-only content that could just as easily be seen on AMC or HBO. For now, it’s still the shows that originate on network television and cable that garner the most attention and praise, but this phase of the battle for eyeballs is only beginning. Hulu is producing several more exclusive shows, and Netflix is getting exclusive rights to the long-anticipated fourth season of the cult comedy show “Arrested Development,” which originally aired on Fox. Meanwhile, Web-only networks like Machima are finding their way onto YouTube as Google tries to position the world’s second-largest search engine as a legitimate source of premium video.
Will original programming be enough to salvage the future everybody hoped online TV would have? Perhaps. It’s still too early in the game to tell, but it should be interesting to watch.
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Snatch up all the set-top boxes, smart HDTVs and second screen apps you want. The future of television will still, at its core, be about one thing: content.
All of the stakeholders realize this, from legacy players such as networks and cable operators to new entrants including streaming services and search companies.
If the Web is going to compete with traditional TV, it won’t be so much with technology as with high-quality content that people genuinely want to watch. That’s why HBO is closely guarding its sought-after programing by tying its mobile apps to cable subscriptions. It’s also why Web companies are investing huge sums of money to create premium video content of their own.
Yahoo, AOL and Google have all been developing original video programming that they hope can compete with the type of content people have historically turned on their television sets to watch. Google in particular recently shoveled $100 million into premium content and has begun to reposition YouTube with less of a focus on bite-sized, viral clips and more emphasis on the quality stuff.
That investment in YouTube appears to be paying off in terms of time-on-site metrics, and the company is said to be recouping much of its expenses, thanks to ample ad revenue.
How Netflix and Hulu Are Upping the Ante
Two players that stand perhaps the best chance of making a mark have both made 2012 the year of premium, Web-original content. Netflix debuted a fish-out-of-water drama called Lilyhammer in February, right around the same time that Hulu launched its own original series called Battleground.
Hulu took things up a notch last week when it announced four more Web-only TV series, each one with its own impressive line-up of established TV-industry talent.
If any Internet-only TV programming has the chance to make a big splash, it’s the long-awaited fourth season of Arrested Development. The show became something of a cult classic after being canceled by Fox in 2006 due to low ratings. Early next year, the original cast will return for a fourth season, which will be released exclusively on Netflix.
The entire season will drop all at once, rather than being released incrementally as television shows historically have been. This is the model many viewers are now used to, thanks in part to services like Netflix. Still, there’s something to be said for the timed debut of individual episodes, which allows people to congregate via second screen apps and social media to have conversations in real-time.
It’s still a bit early to gauge the success of Internet-original TV programming in general. If the online chatter is any indication, people have been more excited about Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey this year than they are about Lilyhammer or Battleground.
The arrival of Arrested Development in early 2013 will provide a particularly interesting test case. In the meantime, expect to see the battle for video-seeking eyeballs continue to heat up online.
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When people talk about the future of TV and entertainment, brands like Samsung, Apple, Comcast and Boxee tend to come to mind. Apple-watchers in particular expect that company to turn its longtime hobby into a game-changer by releasing their own HDTV set later this year.
Whatever happens, the living room of the future will look very different from what even the most cutting-edge gadgetry offers today. But how will it look? The latest vision comes from a very unlikely source.
Swedish furniture retailer Ikea unveiled the Uppleva, an all-in-one entertainment center that merges consumer electronics with the furniture that has traditionally housed them. It’s an HDTV, Blu-Ray player and 2.1 surround-sound stereo packed seamlessly into a single, visually customizable unit.
At its heart, this product is all about design. Ikea’s early marketing touts the Uppleva’s ability to hide unsightly wires and encase everything in one clean, sleek-looking package. It’s not unlike a certain Cupertino tech giant that often takes its cues from minimalist, European design.
In addition to looking pretty, this initiative may offer clues about how entertainment systems of the future will work. The HDTV itself is, of course, “smart” in the sense that it connects to the Internet. That’s pretty much a given at this point. It’s also integrated directly into the furniture, as is the stereo system and media players. The system uses a single remote for everything, addressing another age-old user experience problem of TVs and entertainment systems.
It’s well-packaged and consolidated, but it’s also fully extensible. USB and HDMI ports on the TV allow for any number of gaming consoles, set top boxes and other devices to be attached, and they can be stowed away in a dedicated compartment under the TV. It’s not clear if it includes a VGA port, the lack of which might inhibit device compatibility.
It’s this customizability, now standard in HDTV sets generally, that will ensure that those who chose to purchase Ikea’s new system can continue to experience TV’s future as it evolves, regardless of platform or provider.
The Uppleva doesn’t leap over any major technical hurdles, but its focus on streamlining the user experience is likely to be something we see more of in the living rooms of the future. Even if this model doesn’t become the standard, it’s a bold try and one that is sure to influence other players in the market, should it catch on with consumers.
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The disruption of cable television at the hands of the Internet and its premium video streaming services has been predicted for some time now. Perhaps there’s something about the size and demeanor of the cable industry that makes some people long for it to be conquered by the free and open Web. Maybe that skews the imminence of the predictions. Either way, to many, cable’s disruption just feels inevitable.
Cable is indeed losing subscribers, but it’s happening very slowly. According to the latest data from Nielsen, the number of U.S. homes with cable subscriptions has declined 4.1% in the last year. Meanwhile, TV service provided by telephone companies like Verizon increased 21.1%.
So, it’s not that traditional, non-Web television service in general is going down. Cable subscription rates are dropping slowly, while satellite and other pay TV services are on the rise. Web TV may not be exploding in the way that many might have expected, but it is on the rise.
Nielsen reports considerable growth in the sector of consumers who watch a combination of Web-based and non-cable broadcast television. This is the crowd that Boxee hopes to target with its live TV antennae dongle. They watch half as much TV and stream twice as much online video as the general population.
It’s a group that has grown quickly, but still makes up only 5% of consumers. By comparison, nearly 71% of households subscribe to both broadband and cable television. Cable’s penetration rate alone is more than 90%. In short, it’s not going away anytime soon.
The cable industry faces real, longer-term threats from the likes of Netflix, Hulu and increasingly, Amazon Prime, as well as from set-top boxes and connected TVs. Trends in technology, coupled with the high prices of cable subscriptions, are slowly making cable less attractive to consumers Realizing this, the cable companies have put a renewed focused on innovating for a hyper-connected, multi-screened future.
TV content – wherever it may originate – still takes up an extraordinary amount of our lives. On average, Americans watch 33 hours of television per week. Television has long dominated the media diets of consumers, but what’s changing is when and how they access it.
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