Social television currently refers to social media activity when related to a TV show, often in the context of watching a programme and discussing it on a social network and typically concurrent to its airing; Twitter hashtags make the most of this phenomenon so that viewers comment on, read about and communicate with each other regarding what they are watching live.
Viewers now hashtag programme names or acronyms as if it were second nature, for example #sherlock has been extremely popular during and after the Sunday evening series has been shown. However, more and more programmes are actively promoting a hashtag on screen, such as the BBC’s Dancing On Ice (#dancingonice) and Channel 4’s Celebrity Big Brother (#cbb), whilst in America, the USA network and Fox are increasingly displaying a show’s associated hashtag at the bottom right hand side of the screen right the way through the screening.
Popular as this social TV engagement is with many, there is a problem… you end up missing half of the show due to looking at your laptop, tablet or smartphone! So here’s where my prediction comes in.
Television manufacturers are already producing sets with internet applications built in, such as skype, the BBC iPlayer and other on-demand services, which allow users to watch and listen to TV content that they may have missed when it was aired live. Social network access is also available, particularly YouTube, but I believe it’s the seamless combination of social media and television with a split screen that is currently missing from the mainstream. The good news is that at least one electronics brand has announced an integrated social TV app but personally I feel it has been kept a little under the radar considering the number of people who enjoy conversing on social platforms every day.
I think this concept is big but I don’t believe it will be until sometime during 2013 that it will really catch on for interaction with TV programmes whilst they are being aired, whether that’s with other viewers or the shows themselves, such as Question Time (#bbcqt), which regularly reads out tweets. With the advent of what I would consider truly social TV I would expect interaction and conversations to soar, plus the opportunities for brands could increase rapidly. Imagine the possibilities in a couple of years – if you can see your social networks to the side of what you are viewing on television, think of the fusion that could be had between advertisements and those brands’ social profiles. Like, fan, comment and enter competitions instantly for complete interaction and amazing engagement – it’s a digital PR dream!
I’d love to hear how else you think these types of applications on TV sets could evolve and whether you agree that 2013 could be the year when television turns genuinely social.Powered by Sidelines