When Viacom Media Networks asked people about “social TV” in a new study, the most common responses involved the words “interactive,” “friends” and “Facebook “or “Twitter.” It was part of a research project to understand social TV through the eyes of the viewer. “One of the main goals of this research was to understand how to inspire social TV activity among our audiences,” said Colleen Fahey Rush, who headed up the study. It found the top three social TV activities can be boiled down to communicating, consuming content and checking comments:
Communicating: 56% prefer communicating through the social TV app/service, 53% through Facebook, 50% through individual or group texts and 38% through Skype or Apple FaceTime, the study found. For those that use check-in services, 71% check in to a show to let their friends know and 64% check in to let other fans of the show know. As far as devices, smartphones dominate the use of social TV apps at 82%, trailed by tablets at 18%. For services that are delivered via HTML websites and associated apps, 52% of usage occurs on smartphones or tablets, followed closely by desktop or laptops at 48%.
Content: The number one request for content is full-length episodes (88%), followed by sneak peeks of new episodes (75%), and behind-the-scenes extras (71%) and highlight clips (71%). The majority of TV socializers are interested in rewards with real value, like free merchandise or signed cast photos. When putting aside the material aspect, virtual rewards offer an emotional pay-off, described as being similar to the feeling when ‘liked’ on Facebook.
Comments: The number one source viewers want to hear from is a show’s cast and crew, followed by the people they know. Audiences are sensitive to the quality of comments from a show’s cast and crew – they look for authenticity and prefer the star(s) to be in character.
As you might expect, Viacom found that the activities were twice as likely to happen during live TV rather than time-shifted viewing. Social TV enthusiasts reported feeling “left out” of the conversation if they missed a live airing. Interestingly, the study found the leading source of discovery of social TV services is through search (38%), followed by social networks (26%) and ads run on shows (22%).
Here’s a video that highlights several of the study’s participants talking about social TV.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from a study participant: “When I’m watching Jersey Shore, I have Facebook chats with 10 friends and I’m texting a dozen people, and I can be on the phone to my best friend.” Certainly not a lean-back experience.
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