Saturday, February 12, 2011

What IS Social TV?

This is the report from our TV Goes Social iBreakfast on Feb 9 during Social Media Week.
Speakers include: Simon Applebaum, Tomorrow Will be Televised • Bonnie Sandy Sterling, 28 Squared • Scott Varland, Social Bomb

This iBreakfast opened the door on what many think may be the next really big thing. The CEO of Endemol thinks so. So does Wired, Fast Company and so on.

But what is it?

There is a hardware and software component and a history.

The hardware is that TV will show up anywhere and may come from any source. Your flat screen will soon integrate TV, YouTube and Facebook and anything else you want from the web. Your mobile device and laptop will do much he same. Companies will soon offer really effective whole house servers that let you get the full experience on all your TVs and your smart phone will probably double as a smart remote. If they don't do this hackers are already doing it for them.

Simon Applebaum

On the software side, we are seeing communities form around TV - the content, the actors, the recommendations and so on. Marketers will try to create an ecosystem around their shows. Speaker Scott Varland of Social Bomb does this with an integrated platform they developed to help viewers develop a conversation with the shows they watch. Bonnie Sterling does this on 28 Squared with Brooklyn and African artisans who can share and sell their goods through this visual transaction medium. There is also a coding standard for cable systems that will enable the launch of App markets etc.

Alan Brody

The iBreakfast founders are already involved in doing this on the creation end - helping schoolkids develop their own network using social media tools to develop content and then promote it afterwards. Our first coup was their interview with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg's Dad which got picked up by 700+ news outlets around the world.

The real magic is that the teens know how to use these tools for development and communication - more importantly, they know how to use it for social and academic gain. They get noticed by friends and eventually, college admissions officers. This is presumably a blueprint for way adults will eventually adopt Social TV. We just have to figure out which gatekeepers they want to impress.

According to Varland, TVs many gatekeepers have made investors fearful of entering this space - Social TV in all its forms may just be the means to getting around them!

As for the History - Social TV has become the new flagbearer for elusive quest for Interactive TV - and therein lies the minefield. Everyone gets the social community and communication angle - they even get the idea of communicating with visual references etc. They don't get the dangerous side - that viewers don't want their TV experience interrupted. In other words, they don't want their vegged out mental state disturbed. This is our national meditation time.

A key reason Interactive TV failed is they did a good job of disturbing viewers - with the exception of their amazingly successful caller ID on the screen feature. This was great precisely because it saved you from getting up from your chair to screen your call. If only it could handle the call itself - so you won't have to be bothered with it at all!

With these themes in mind and a million more questions - we will be running a number of additional panels as well as a TV Goes Social blog.

If you have any ideas of your own please share them with us at and we'll post them.

Additional Report on IPTV Evangelist
Want your Twitter TV? - read about it in Fast Company.

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