Social TV subtly works into TV business models

Joseph O'Halloran | 25-10-2012

Social TV is getting to be an increasingly more social activity especially in the United States where 38% of US adult broadband users currently participate in "social TV" activity at least a couple times per year, according to new The Diffusion Group (TDG).

The analystís latest report, Social TV User (STU) Dimensions, found that the widespread diffusion of broadband Internet services combined with rapid innovation in mobile technology has led to a convergence between what were previously distinct experiences: watching TV versus using a "computing" device.

The research identified two primary segments of social TV Users: Talkers, those that only talk or chat about the program they are viewing via instant messaging or social networks; and Engagers, those who not only talk but use so-called synching apps to interact directly with the TV show. Talkers are disproportionately female with an average age of 37, while Engagers, are primarily male with an average age of 34. Engagers are three times more likely than Talkers to consider themselves early technology adopters and significantly more likely to make use of fee-based OTT services like Netflix.

Smartphones were found to be the most popular device for social TV engagement, twice as popular as tablets (used by 87% and 42% of STUs respectively). Only 13% of STUs use both smartphones and tablets for these activities. 56% of STUs are between the ages of 18 and 34.

"When the iPad was first introduced, in short order dual-device behaviour would emerge, and that is precisely what is now taking place," said Michael Greeson, TDG Director of Research and author of the new report.

Aside from changing the essence of "personal TV experiences," Greeson added that social TV is subtly working its way into long-standing business models, in particular those relating to advertising, subscription services, and on-demand applications. "The real-time interaction of consumers with the TV program itself, not to mention other viewers, provides broadcasters with the opportunity to identify and market to finely filtered consumer segments with highly curated offerings," he observed.