The Future of TV is Social

Let this statistic sink in for a moment:

86 percent of smart phone owners are using their phones while watching television.

You would think this concept would scare the heck out of TV networks.  After all, when viewers are dividing their attention between your show and another screen you are losing mind share.  Your content is being interrupted and diminished.



In fact, the opposite is true.  The reality is that online and social channels are augmenting, expanding and extending the content of TV shows.  People are engaging with TV in ways they simply couldn’t before now.  They are sharing impressions and insights on with friends on Facebook.  They are making snarky remarks on Twitter.  They are participating in real-time chats on forums.  They are following their favorite shows on social channels.

Television viewing is no longer a one screen experience.  It’s two and even three screens.

It turns out that people enjoy real-time play-by-play and analysis during their favorite shows.  And they also enjoy getting more content from these shows when they aren’t on the air.  Thirty and sixty minutes with their favorite characters and storylines aren’t enough.  And this spells HUGE opportunities for TV producers and the brands that market on them.

The future of television is the Internet and the reason for that – other than the fact that web-based TV can be watched anytime and anywhere – is interactivity.  People want their TV social.

Take the TV show “Top Chef” that last year filmed webisodes called “Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen.” The web-based programming gave contestants who had lost on the TV version of the show another opportunity to compete and to get back on the show – via the web.

The two shows shared a large part of the overall audience – but some people watched only one version.  The content – while connected – was also independent of each other.  They were able to build bridges, of course, but also able to carve out their own identities and core fans.

This mentality is becoming standard in the industry.  This is what Dana Robinson, senior director of social media at, told Mike Proulx and Stacey Shepatin for their new book called “Social TV.”

“We take what’s on the air for 30 to 60 minutes and we continue that storyline online. We try to create additional experiences and fan engagement online so that when the show is not on-air the users can remain interested – if not more so – in the show.”

Brands need to think the same way.  How can brands extend and augment their own content online?  What kinds of online extensions are you building to bring your stories to life beyond the traditional?


Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen

“Social TV” by Mike Proulx and Stacey Shepatin

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