Is social media saving TV?

The way we are watching TV has fundamental changed in two ways over the last couple of years. We no longer watch programming on an actual TV; instead we are increasingly watching shows on streaming sites like the BBC iPlayer or on DVR’s. The second major change is the way we interact with our peers as we watch, posting our thoughts or looking up info on our phones, tablets, etc.

Although the iPlayer has been a massive success, it hasn’t all been good news for the networks. As we no longer watch TV shows when they are first air, networks are struggling to find new ways to start pulling viewers back to TV sets for original airdates. This is because it is during the original airdate that they can charge advertisers the most for commercials.

Due to these changes advertisers and producers have begun to weave digital campaigns and social media into TV programming. Many of us now sit and watch TV with twitter open as it is a chance to engage in two-way communication with those involved in the creation of a program. It is like sitting on your sofa watching the program with the star.

It is this kind of marketing that networks need to start thinking about more in order to prevent declining viewership. By integrating TV and digital platforms so that content can be shared seamlessly, TV watching a more active participatory experience.

One of the best examples of this to date is the ‘Grays Anatomy’ iPad app. The app is designed as a form of companion content and showcases interactive content in real time, based on what is happening on screen.  Powered by Media-Sync technology, it uses the iPad’s to listen for audio watermarks typically use for tracking TV ratings. The app can then figure out where a viewer is in a program and offer up corresponding content.

Now I am not a huge UFC fan, but I have to admit I have been impressed with their efforts to socialize their programming. They have begun streaming pay-per-view while simultaneously allowing users to interact on multiple platforms by tweeting, chatting and judging the fights.

By making creating quality programming that incorporates social media, networks are able to give viewers a reason to return to their TV sets, which in turn increases viewership and of course ad revenue. So again I pose the question can social media save TV?

@Laura_Scott is a digital strategist at Addiction Innovation.