Friday, November 15, 2013

Social Television: Creating Communities of Devices, Stories and People

Social Television is now part of the daily conversation. As video and TV content consumption moves to the multi-screen and device ecosystem of the new Internet landscape, novel challenges are emerging. Devices like tablets and smartphones and sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Netflix have multiplied the choices for content consumption and commenting in the past few years and created a large number of multiscreen applications that complement mainstream story telling. Social television initially wanted to recreate the social communities of the living room and water cooler in an age of where social mobility had engendered the dislocation of the traditional means of socializing but where ubiquitous connectivity had the power to re-invent them. Television content is now at the center of a number of communities: of people, of device and of stories. And in turns it helps create and sustain these communities with innovative approaches.

Community of People: As more and more content migrates to the Internet, “personal” content has become the norm. The immediacy and social aspects of content consumption of every kind, and of video in particular, are being integrated into better experiences. With Internet content, multiple delivery mechanisms and personalization, the applications “sandbox” is expanding fast. The Internet is enabling a major shift on the landscape of video distribution and consumption. TV content in is being impacted by social viewing expectations, which reconnect with and go beyond a type of experience that reaches back to TV’s original social roots.  It reaches to all the facets of the new content experience from video technology to user interfaces and microblogging.

Community of Devices: Connectivity is essential to social consumption of content. The old model based on total operator control of content formatting, advertisement serving and rendering is being challenged by over the top (OTT), user generated content, co-viewing and mobile services. The result of this disintermediation is that any content consumption experience will be influenced by platforms that support it.

Community of Stories:  The creation of communities around storytelling and content production is interesting, promising and difficult. Viewers can be given the opportunity to shape television content and socially influence what they are watching. Even though these concepts have created a new popular genre by allowing people to rate contestants, it remains in its infancy. There is still much research that is being done, since good storytelling is a complicated task that cannot be taken lightly. Nevertheless, there is much to gain by involving content producers and viewers alike with the goal of making television social, beyond checking how programs are doing on social networking sites.


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