2012 may be remembered as the year that broadcast and social media merged.
In a January 3rd, 2012 piece for TV Technology, Susan Ashworth writes about the intersection between broadcast and social media technologies: "Whether it's to gather reaction, gauge opinion, develop brand preferences or cement station loyalty, the possibilities inherent in social media are proving to have an irresistible appeal to broadcasting."
At first, the "second screen" phenomenon was seen as a threat by broadcasters: "A recent study by Razorfish and Yahoo estimates that 80 percent of viewers today are "mobile multitasking," sitting in front of their TV screen with a secondary mobile device in hand—a trend that seemed to add to the ongoing concern over audience fragmentation from ad-skipping DVRs and online video streaming."
But what was initially seen as a threat, is now being accepted as the new reality. Increasingly, broadcast stalwarts are reaching out to viewers through the second screen, attempting to integrate the behavior that users have already adopted. The idea is to make the experience of watching a show more engaging and immersive. For example, "for its primetime drama "Bones," Fox [recently] rolled out a companion app for mobile devices that encourages TV viewers to keep simultaneous tabs on the online and social media aspects of "Bones" while it airs, such as gathering unique details that are found only online and interacting directly with other fans as they watch the live show."
For certain programming, it may even be possible to merge audience response from the second screen into the primary content in real-time. While it won't work for all content, new types of programming and certain existing types of TV content (sports, news, weather, game shows, reality, etc.) may benefit from initiatives to combine social media messages into shows as they air (taking content from the second screen and making it part of the programming as it goes out). For example, Miranda, a company that supplies traditional broadcast graphics technology, has partnered with a software company, Quest Research & Development, to create a bundled solution that has the ability to display viewer's messages on-air. The resulting system displays a twitter feed that can be filtered or moderated as the show is broadcast.
Thanks to Nick DeMartino and Gunther Sonnenfeld for passing along the link.