How Social Media is Changing Television As We Know It (Press)

User Insight’s article on social TV was recently featured in UX Booth!  In the article, our president, Kevin O’Connor,  explains why social TV matters to us all and shines a spotlight on our Social TV Experiment. Click here to read the article on UX Booth’s site or, to learn more, read the excerpt below. And, please be sure to  add your thoughts:

Ynon Kreiz, CEO of the Endemol Group, told the crowd at the Digital Life Design Conference in January, “Everyone says that social television will be big. It’s not going to be big – it’s going to be huge!” He added, “Get up, run to your garages, and get to work designing the future of Social TV. Whoever figures it out first will be the Steve Jobs of this generation.”

Apparently, someone listened. From hardware such as Apple TV and Roku players to software such as GetGlue and Yidio, concepts are pouring in to the Social TV arena which means that change is on the horizon.

As it is used today, Social TV is a broad term referring to sundry technologies that support social interactions in the context of watching television or consuming TV-related content. In the hardware realm, those could be streaming devices, gaming consoles and internet-connectable Blu-ray players and TVs. On the software side, consumers are looking at a wider variety: content discovery, check-in, gaming and programming applications, for example.

Yet many key questions about Social TV remain unanswered. For instance, how will these concepts come together into salable technologies? What do consumers want to see from the world of Social TV? To answer these and more, the User Insight team began a yearlong Social TV research project, called “The Social TV Experiment,” applying the best of what the firm does: user research.


Why Social TV is Relevant

Before we jump into the project’s quarter one results, however, it’s worth addressing some questions that readers of digital publications are likely wondering. Namely, why is Social TV relevant to me? A fair question, to be sure.

Well, in short, it’s changing the way we all watch TV! In the Spring of 2007, Nielsen reported that more than 2.5 million fewer people tuned in to the major four networks than in Spring of 2006. All of that changed once YouTube went viral, however. The seemingly declining technology of television suddenly resurged, albeit in a digital form. More recently, in 2010, Forrester found that U.S. consumers spent equal time on the Internet as they did watching TV.

As we’re all spending more and more time on the Internet, we’re also increasing our interactions there. And, companies have made note! I think we all remember the Old Spice videos from last summer in which Isaiah Mustafa dressed only in a towel for two days and responded to fans from a set made to look like a bathroom. The videos had more than 83 million YouTube Channel upload views – more views in the first 24 hours than Obama’s victory speech. The success of these Old Spice videos was, in large part, thanks to the real-time, rapid responses made to users – making the videos “conversational.”

Social television is—by definition—an interactive, social experience; it requires our attention and our consideration. Just as social media and technological innovations are changing the ways in which we publish and consume information, so too will it change the television landscape. Social TV not only has the potential to put the user in control over the what, when and how they consume TV, but it also allows users to collaboratively define and share their experience. Sound familiar?…

Click here to read more of the article on UX Booth.