Back to IndieWire

What is Social TV?

What is Social TV?

so·cial TV  [ˈsō-shəl ˈtē-ˈvē] noun

:the use of technologies that allow a viewer to: discover,
interact, socialize, search, share and purchase around content they are
watching, synced in real time, on
the Big Screen in the Living Room…..or online with a second screen, like a
laptop, tablet, game console, smart phone or, on the primary viewing Connected
TV  screen

~as defined by Andy Batkin, CEO, Social Summits, LLC

When I think back to my first days in production and
distribution (ca. ’97) things seem so easy compared to the myriad of considerations
facing the release of a successful film or TV property these days.  The sheer number of TYPES of properties and
associated content that a storyteller can create and share are wonderful and
astounding.  In an attempt to try to stay
on top of all the possibilities (I love unreachable goals) last week I attended
the intimate Social TV Summit at the
Bel-Air Country Club.  Sponsored by the
Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,
Social TV bills itself as “Focusing on Producing Content
With Social TV and Second Screen Executions in Mind.”

They managed to pack a lot of speakers
into one afternoon, but the best panel featured five “Senior Level
Creative Executives Talk[ing] About The Importance of Planning for Social TV or
Second Screen executions BEFORE They Develop TV Shows or Online Video Content.

TV vet and CEO of production outfit Electus, Ben Silverman had a lot to say and
was sharp as usual.  He was exceptionally
frank in describing most deals as basically handing off the online content to
the final distributor or broadcaster and not being allowed in a major way to
participate in developing and benefitting from the exciting potential
revenue  beyond some potentially small,
predetermined percentage, “Depending on where we are in the food chain, we
may not be involved with the incremental advertising revenue
associated.”  He added, “However,
the sponsors have been wonderful in protecting us [the content creators] and
our position.”

A huge question all execs are faced with these days, and
I’ve yet to hear anyone claim to have the answer, is “Does Social impact
ratings? ”  Most people agree that
while a hot Twitter hashtag might be able to have some positive effect,
Facebook has been really late to the game in its outreach to entertainment
properties.  Silverman pointed out that “trending”
shows seem to get a bump in ratings, but is that because of the trending or
because they are innately popular and/or getting a big ad spend/PR push?   (Facebook seems to be getting the message;
they sent Strategic Partner Manager, Nick Grudin, to LA recently to listen and improve
the conversation with content creators.)

Get*This CEO, Lisa Farris
added some sharp and savvy commentary to the panel with her experience running online
product integration and direct sales for shows such as Scandal and Two Broke
Girls .  She stressed that the “educational
component” is so important when dealing with the integration of product
placement and commerce.  Actually most
everyone on the panel seemed to agree that a stronger educational push is
required on all digital fronts from project finance to online
merchandising.  Many of the top execs
controlling the purse strings and broadcast strategy are still way behind in
their thinking.  Bemoaned Silverman,
“The success of online engagement still doesn’t figure into the
decision-making process.  It’s still all
about the ratings.”

The prevalent sentiment from the panelists was how the
internet is a wonderful laboratory and should be used as such by content
creators.  Producers looking to integrate
online more into their traditional content might want to consider this as they
push the boundaries of integration:

“Data is sexy. 
Feed the analytics about keywords and sentiment back to your writers and
you can enhance your story arc in real time.”  Marc Scarpa, SimplyNew Producer/Director, X
Factor Pepsi Digital Preshow and Xtra Factor App

Test.  Experience.” Mat
Corey, CMO, Mass Relevance

“On-demand.  Not
demanding.  Enhance, don’t distract.  Give the user what they want.  Help the user interact, find, share, or
enjoy.  In the online space focus on
evolution, not revolution.”  Kyle
Brink, Head of Product, Viggle

“If you don’t engage them, someone else
will.”  David Jones, EVP Marketing, Shazam

Several app makers and software companies made short presentations
about how they help content creators “socialize” their content, but
the presentation by David Jones, EVP of marketing at Shazam really knocked my
socks off.  Shazam is an app that resides
on cell-phones and tablets and allows users to scan within 5-10 seconds any
song they hear and then leads them to information about the song, including
links to buy it on iTunes and other online retailers.  What I never realized was that they are now
working directly with films and TV shows to deliver trailers and second-screen
content to users through the Shazam interface; not only providing huge
engagement numbers, but leading to direct commerce as well.

I caught David afterwards and asked him a couple of

Zack Coffman:  What
kinds of tools does Shazam offer a filmmaker? Any good ideas or strategies you
can recommend?

David Jones:  We work with the film maker or distributor to build custom
second-screen experiences for 1 or several moments of a film, or even the
entire film. For example, with TV programming (and just as easily with a film),
we can synchronize a whole host of content and features that are available on
the second screen, synchronized (or not) to precise moments in the movie. Our
audio content recognition technology makes this possible, as we know exactly
where the viewer is in the film (or any content for that matter). If the film
maker has the additional bonus content or second-screen experience in mind, we
can make it happen.

As far as ideas
to recommend, the possibilities are endless. 
Bonus content of many kinds, but for example, additional camera angles,
synched content (CMS or live-produced), Interactive content (polls, voting /
what’s hot, trending), non-synched complementary content (all kinds),
additional story lines / video vignettes, behind the scenes / making of videos,
sweepstakes / once-in-a-lifetime experiences, instigating more social media
conversations from all of this great engagement – the list goes on.

ZC:  What’s a film oriented
campaign that you’re especially proud of?

DJ: Sony Pictures has worked with Shazam to promote the theatrical
release of over a half-dozen films in the last year, including great movies
like Men In Black 3 and Spiderman. We help turn interest into action, turning a
30-second spot into viewing the full trailer, accessing bonus content, and
buying tickets through Fandango right there on your mobile phone. It’s simple,
but effective. The Glee Movie on DVD was Shazam-enabled where several different
scenes in the movie could be Shazam’d to unlock bonus content. I could rattle
off quite the list of theatrical and home entertainment releases, but suffice
it to say, this is one of many natural fits for mobile activation of movie

ZC:  Is there any plan to develop a
suite of tools or an initiative to work more with indies considering their
particular needs and parameters?  Any
thoughts or advice to add?

DJ:  As far as tools and support
for indie filmmakers, while we are leaders in this space, it’s also early days.
While we’ve done scores of TV show and live event implementations and hundreds
of TV ad campaigns, and produced live, custom second-screen experiences for the
biggest live TV events in the US like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, and some of
the biggest shows in television like American Idol, a lot of what we’ve done to
date is custom built for clients and partners. We’ll make it easier to execute
over time, but the most important thing to do is start dreaming now about how
you can enhance and expand the storyline to the second screen — synchronously
and/or asynchronously — and get started.


Written by Zack Coffman,
Head of Content, Distribution, & Strategy at One World Studios Ltd.  He is an award-winning producer specializing
strategy and monetization
, live streaming, and YouTube channel
.  Connect with Zack

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Toolkit and tagged