i3 - May/June 2018 - 43

By Gary Arlen

Business

C S PAC E

Social TV's
Evolving
Presence

Y
   

ou Kiddin' Me, a
10-episode Lionsgate
series on Facebook
Watch, typifies the ongoing
TV/social media evolution.
The show, which celebrity Kim
Kardashian West executiveproduced, features children of
Hollywood stars pranking their
famous parents and "the
unsuspecting public." Via
crowdsourcing, Facebook viewers can suggest prank ideas.
Elsewhere on the "social TV" spectrum
are stunning statistics about two-screen
experiences, where viewers of "conventional" linear TV shows interact simultaneously via smartphones, computers and
tablets: 170 million such interactions during Super Bowl LII, 23 million during the
2018 Oscar telecast and up to three million for AMC's The Walking Dead weekly
episodes, according to Nielsen's Social
Content Ratings. As Nielsen pointed out
in its "New Megaphone" report, social
media "[gives] consumers a chance to be
heard on what they watch." Nielsen also
says "social media platforms are evolving"
beyond the advertising/marketing format
once envisioned as a primary driver.

Solar Seven/Getty Images

Interacting with Content

The avalanche of made-for-social media
programs often builds in a simultaneous
social media component, leveraging the
capabilities of the screens on smart TVs,
tablets and smartphones. Moreover, the
seismic shift in the distribution of video
programming means that shows are no
longer limited to sequential broadcast,
cable or satellite schedules. The endless
C TA . t e c h / i 3

parade of streaming content already
puts viewers at a connected digital
device. Hence, it just takes a few finger
clicks to initiate a social media relationship with a video program.
Facebook Watch, the video-on-demand
service launched last summer, continues
to add content such as Sorry for Your
Loss, a dark comedy, and Sacred Lies, a
10-episode series. Facebook Watch
streamed ancillary coverage of this year's
Oscars show with links to the Motion
Picture Academy's website oscar.com
plus the Facebook page of ABC TV, which
was telecasting the events.
Twitter live-streams out-of-market
Major League Baseball games and has
deals with basketball, hockey and other
pro sports. It also carries the live hourlong morning talk show, AM to DM, produced by BuzzFeed. Twitter was the first
social platform to stream NFL Thursday
night games in 2016.
And traditional programmers are
upping their social TV presence especially for sports and special events. At the
Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, NBC
ran a "social media war room" where creatives posted videos, photos and memes
on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and
Snapchat to generate buzz and viewer
interaction. NBC's goal (in addition to
generating new ad revenue) was to drive
younger viewers to watch NBC's telecasts.

Evolutionary Roots

The concept of "telewebbing" emerged
in 1996 during the earliest days of the
web. When Showtime carried a Mike
Tyson versus Frank Bruno boxing
match, the network created a website
(at dial-up speeds) where viewers could
score each round.
Showtime expected fans would go
from the TV set to another room where
their desktop PC was set up to enter
their opinions between rounds. To the
researchers' surprise, fans were entering scores as every punch was thrown -
suggesting that the TV set and PC were
in the same room. That finding led
Showtime to embark on a binge of twoscreen adventures, which is continuing.
Now, throughout the cross-platform
ecosystem, producers, program distributors and advertisers are experimenting with countless approaches to
interweaving video content and social
media. Advertisers as well as program
creators and distributors are moni
toring how viewers use their multitasking tools.
Nearly 177.7 million U.S. adults
per month will go online while
watching TV in 2017, says eMarketer,
which expects that number to rise to
193.5 million next year. That means a
lot of ways to engage viewers on
any platform.
MAY/JUNE 2018

43


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - May/June 2018

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