62% of consumers use social media while watching TV on a weekly basis. This fact is stunning and an increase of 18% over last year, according to the results from the annual Ericsson ConsumerLab study. While folks may not all be chatting about the content on their big screen, 25% of the 62% are – and that’s still a big and growing %.  For a summary of the study, go here.

How many of us have texted our friends while watching a broadcast show, a live presidential speech or a sporting event? What about the chatter around those Super Bowl commercials? With Social TV, the opportunities to connect with others outside of our direct social networks around things we love are endless. The ability for our clients to do the same, in real-time, is there. I could even see the re-imagining of the commercial as a real-time call to action to engage. Simply connecting with a larger audience around the breaks within major events such as the Super Bowl or The Oscars brings endless opportunities, especially if curated around carefully promoted search terms and hashtags.

And more proof-points are coming our way. The Council for Research Excellence (CRE) will be conducting a new study to determine the impact of social media activity on television viewing. Keller Fay Group, Nielsen, Nielsen Life360, NM Incite, and Bluefin Labs have all agreed to participate in conducting the study. It will consist of three different components: A quantitative survey conducted by consulting firm Keller Fay Group of up to 1,600 participants recruited by Nielsen, all checking in multiple times per day over the course of a week via a mobile app; a social media analytics project from NM Incite, with the social TV analytics provided by Bluefin Labs; and ethnographies provided by Nielsen Life360, where 200 panelists will record media usage for seven days using their own smartphones. Comprehensive it is!

And there is plenty to research as Second Screen Social TV offerings are well underway. Here are a few that I have been tracking:

Yahoo was the first and most vocal with their easy-to-use IntoNow tablet app. While watching TV, the app recognizes the content through sound recognition and conveniently pulls up all the social streams around that particular piece of content all in real time.

YouToo.com (a social TV company) enables folks to record Video messages that then have the chance to appear in conjunction with the broadcast show. One example is Ricki Lake’s new daytime talk show which will be accompanied by its very own social network, hosted by YouToo to allow users to record videos in response to on-air topics, which if approved by producers, could show up on later broadcasts.

UK-based social TV company Zeebox will be launching in the US soon and is expected to announce a deal with Comcast along with Time Warner Cable. It will provide both cable operators access to its social TV technology for use within their existing mobile apps, as well as launch its own app in the market. Zeebox’s mobile app allows TV viewers to see what their friends are watching, follow social conversations and interact with others around shows, access additional information on a program, and has an m-commerce capability that allows users to buy things they see on TV.

Mass Relevance has teamed up with Turner Sports to launch The 13th Man, a new social/second-screen tool tied to the 2012 Ryder Cup. Available on the tournament’s website, the social tool will allow users to access fan conversations and reactions in real-time during the Cup over the next five days.

VH1’s Love & Hip Hop:Atlanta was the most social TV show (excluding sports) of the summer, according to data from Trendrr.TV. On average, the show generated more than double the social interactions per episode vs. the second-most social summer series. Females were responsible for 67% of all social interactions related to the show. Behind Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, the other top shows/genres for SocialTV are:

  • The Bad Girls Club (Oxygen)
  • Keeping Up with the Kardashians (E!).
  • Sports programming dominated social TV as the end of the NBA Playoffs on TNT and ESPN generated 4.4 million social media comments and interactions; ESPN’s coverage of Euro 2012 brought in 25 million social interactions; and NBC’s Olympic coverage generated 28 million social interactions.
  • The top three dramas were Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family), Teen Wolf (MTV), and True Blood (HBO).
  • Excluding Olympic and other sports-related networks, BET, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, and ABC Family were the most social cable networks this summer.
  • Discovery’s Shark Week brought in more than 4.3 million social interactions during that one week in August.
For those entertainment companies that have yet to get into the action, mPortal has released a new set of social TV APIs that are designed to help content and service providers build second-screen apps for connected devices. The APIs allow providers to develop an interactive experience that connects audiences with friends across selected social networks while giving insight into individuals’ unique viewing preferences.

Given the expanding opportunities to engage with the content that we crave, the Public Relations industry is in a great position to help brands and organizations connect in real time through a medium that used to be a one-way, static affair. Truthfully I don’t see it going any other way. As with traditional social media, if you are not involved in the conversation, it moves on without you and the entertainment industry cannot afford to let that happen.

And then there is something else to consider – the fact that mobile is engaging us in ways that may exceed the immersive experience of TV and the fact that mobile devices are what we use when we engage in Social TV. I really loved this post by Matt Cohler from Benchmark CapitalMobile Will Grab TV Advertising’s Crown.

For those of you who are joining us for Social Media Week this week in Los Angeles, the entertainment capitol of the world, I’d love to know how you plan on using the technologies at your disposal to connect with an audience that is clearly passionate about the content you are producing.


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