Social TV State of the Union
By Andy Batkin

I decided this year to start a tradition of providing a State of the Union message about the Social TV industry and, providing a forum for industry Thought Leaders to make some bold predictions about what lays a head for 2014. I thought it was important to see what took place at CES and NATPE in January before we delivered our State of the Union. That was a good choice as both the CEA and NATPE delivered a joint report on the 2nd Screen with some great insight into the future. Below my “State of the Union”, you will see a fun recap of 2013, month by month, and then some bold predictions for 2014 from some Social TV Thought Leaders. Let me know what you think.

The State of the Union of the Social TV industry is not good today. Why?

  1. There is not enough advertiser support for the second screen experience
  2. There is not enough reach on any of the second screen platforms for the agencies to place any major resources towards this medium. We heard this time and time again at our Social TV Thought Leadership Roadshow, which visited 18 major ad agencies in New York and LA in 2013.
  3. Second Screen execution is hard….hard for the producers of the content and unfortunately, hard for the consumer to use….with many consumers complaining, “it didn’t sync right”, “it gave me content that I really didn’t care about”.
  4. Most second screen platform developers have a revenue model that consists of just raising more money from their investors
  5. There is confusion in the marketplace as to what Social TV means (more on that later).
  6. Despite a large percentage of viewers having a second screen in front of them, less then 1% of viewers are engaging (except during tent pole events like the Grammys, Super Bowl, etc.)
  7. There are too many technology players chasing the Social TV dream…..consolidation is everywhere.
  8. People are already socializing around TV with Facebook and Twitter and seem to be quite happy with that.
  9. Speaking of Twitter, TV Networks have been enamored with Twitter, who has done a great job of convincing the TV networks to send their TV audience over to Twitter…… where Twitter can monetize the network’s audience.
  10. Facebook was late to the Social TV party in 2013.

So, sounds real bad huh? My thought is with all of the negative things swirling around the Social TV industry, it is just an opportunity to do it all better and solve the problems that were created. I know, sounds easy, but with over 70 % of TV viewers having a second screen in front of them, I subscribe to the Jimmy Valvano school of optimism….”Don’t Give Up….Don’t Ever Give Up”.

Here area few thoughts how we can move the industry forward and some reasons why we are all just getting started. First, lets define the industry better. I think it should be in three buckets:

  1. Social TV – which should be defined as the curation of social comments on Twitter, Facebook, etc., around TV shows and then displayed on TV through the networks graphic systems. Companies like Mass Relevance and TimeLine Labs play in this arena.
  2. Companion TV – which should be defined as platforms that are “synced” to the content that viewers are watching and supply “meta data” to the viewer in real time, about the actors, the show, quizzes, etc. Companies like Zeebox play in this arena. You could also place the Discovery players here, like Dijit/Viggle.
  3. Participation TV – which should be defined as a platform that allows all viewers to participate in LIVE votes, opinions, quizzes, gamifications, etc., in real time, and allow the viewer to see the results instantly displayed on TV through the networks graphic systems. Companies like iPowow play in this arena.

Second, It is important for the TV Networks to be actively engaged in the promotion of these platforms. That is the only way we will see the “reach” build and bring in the money from the agencies and brands. The technology players don’t have the money to build audience.

Third, this is a call to action for the development of an industry association that can represent the features, benefits, advantages and usages to all stakeholders, especially the brands, agencies, content developers and VCs/investors. We need to all focus on the business of content, where ever it is distributed.

Fourth, the industry needs to focus on educating a number of stakeholders on all of the benefits of using Social TV platforms and solutions, so the money can flow to fund these programs. The stakeholders are the TV networks, brands, agencies and content developers (they need to develop TV shows with Social TV tools in mind).

Speaking of Content Developers… here are some bullish thoughts below from a number of content developers, most of which came out of the NATPE – CEA 2nd Screen Report in early January:

  • Most content producers agree second screen is in its infancy, but here to stay.
  • Many producers currently say they include second screen content in the planning phase of new program projects.
  • Viewers of reality shows (competitive and non-competitive) and daytime talk shows express the strongest interest in all types of synchronous content while watching programming, including background on characters, voting, contests, sneak peeks, trivia, etc. Viewers of this type of programming are generally more positive about the second screen experience overall and say it increases their enjoyment of the core content.
  • In the future, viewers will participate in stories in real time for a truly immersive experience. Producers will make stories both with, and for the audience. This will give viewers ownership in that program brand which will help drive its success.

2014 will be a very interesting year for the Social TV industry. What do you think?

2013 Year in Review


  • DISH Launches DISH Explorer App for Second-Screen TV Viewing on iPad
  • Al Jazeera buys Current TV
  • Brent Musburger, 73, livens up the first half of BCS title game with comments on AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb…..Trends on Twitter
  • Vine Rolls Out
  • BCS Generates Record Social Media Numbers
  • Viggle Acquisition of Get Glue Cancelled
  • Golden Globes Generate over 4.2 Million Tweets
  • Budweiser Goes Up on Twitter


  • Oscars Stream for First Time
  • FOX Launches Second Screen Network With Large Partners
  • Oscars Attract Over 13. 2 Million Social Interactions
  • USA Network Launches S#cial Sector for PSYCH
  • House of Cards Debuts on Netflix
  • Univision’s Latin Music Awards Sets Social Interaction Records
  • February Establishes Itself as Most Social Month With Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars
  • Twitter Acquires BlueFin Labs
  • Oreos – You Can Still Dunk in the Dark Tweet, “Power Out, No Problem”, Steals Super Bowl

Social TV Summit Miami – Sponsored by Univision, brought together all of the major players in the fast growing LATAM Social TV market. Keynote was Randy Falco from Univision.

Latin Social TV Awards dominated by Univision – See Results


  • Twitter Establishing Number One Position in Social TV – Where is Facebook?
  • SXSW and Second Screen – Marriage Made it Heaven
  • Mass Relevance Releases Dynamic Mosaic
  • Netflix Announces Facebook Integration
  • Facebook to Add Hashtags
  • Pope Tweet Mania
  • Nielsen Acquires SocialGuide
  • First Live Baseball Game Streamed on Twitter


  • Upfronts Talk Second Screen
  • House of Cards Mania Continues….Binge Viewing!
  • March Madness Sets Social Interaction Records
  • Boston Marathon Bombing


  • FOX to Use Twitter to Distribute Show Clips via Twitter
  • NBA and VIGGLE Launch Partnership
  • YAHOO Acquires Tumblr
  • ESPN and Twitter Partner to Sell Video Ads
  • CBS Acquires
  • Twitter Announces Interactive TV Advertising Product

Sports Social TV Summit and Awards – Sponsored By Turner Sports, brought together all of the major players in the fast growing Sports Social TV market. Keynote was Randy Freer, President FOX Sports

Sports Social TV Awards Master of Ceremonies – Kevin Frazier. See Results:


  • Facebook Prepares to Take on Twitter
  • Dish Network launched Social – Big Screen Social TV
  • Ad Age Updates Social TV Ecosystem (See chart:
  • A+E Says Shows With Higher Twitter Engagements Should be Paid More
  • 2013 CMT MUSIC AWARDS Breaks Records Across Social Media
  • ABC Family’s ‘Pretty Little Liars’ Season 4 Premiere is the Most-Tweeted
  • Viacom and Twitter Partner to Deliver Social Video Campaigns for Marquee Programs via Twitter Amplify
  • Discovery Channel’s Skywire Live, was one of the biggest social TV events of the year, generating more than 1.3 million tweets


  • Facebook Says They Have 5 Times the Social Audience Then Twitter
  • Unvision’s Premios Juventud’ Sets Social Interaction Records
  • USA Executes Cross Platform Promo with Target
  • Shazam Gets $40 Million Investment
  • Sharknado Surprises Social TV World
  • BET Awards Sets Social Interaction Records

Social TV Summit LA – Sponsored By the Producers Guild of America in Association With The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences , brought together all of the creative community in LA to lean how to use Social TV solutions before they create TV shows. Keynote was Nick Grudin from Facebook.

2nd Annual Social TV Awards – Master of Ceremonies, Billy Bush, Host of NBC’s Access Hollywood. See the Finalists and Winners:


  • Twitter Acquires TrendRR
  • MTV’s VMA’s Sets Social Interaction Records – Was it the Twerking?
  • VIGGLE Announces Viggle Audience Network
  • 2012 Social TV Marketer of the Year, Jesse Redness Rumored to Leave USA Network (which he did in October to move to Mass Relevance)
  • Sharkweek Sets Social Interaction Records
  • Facebook planning TV-style Ads
  • Nielsen says there is a causal relationship between Twitter conversation and TV ratings


  • Million Second Quiz – Live Social TV Show Premiers on NBC
  • Twitter Adds NFL to Amplify
  • NBC Executes Celebrity Twitter Week
  • EMMYS Execute Unique Social TV Apps
  • ABC DWTS Uses Facebook Social Data
  • Dunkin Donuts Broadcasts Ad Entirely from Vine
  • Facebook Offers Access to Public Feed and Keywords


  • Twitter Announces IPO
  • XFactor Partners With Shazam for Voting
  • It’s Official: Jesse Redness Joins Mass Relevance
  • Comcast and Twitter Announce “See It”
  • Nielsen’s Twitter Research is Launched
  • USA AND iPowow Launch Participation TV with Modern Family Syndication


  • Univision Scores Again With Latin Grammy’s
  • Family Guy Kills the Dog – Twitter says No
  • Twitter Launches Social Shows
  • ABC Announces It Picks Up All Social Music Show, Rising Star, from Israel
  • FOX Signs American Express to Twitter Amplify Deal
  • The Voice Saves Contestant With Twitter Vote
  • SnapChat Turns Down $3 Billion from Facebook
  • ABC and CMA’s Score Big
  • Twitter Starts Trading
  • Get Glue Acquired by i.TV


  • DirecTV buys equity stakes in LiveClips and i.TV
  • Endemol invests in Social games firm Plumbee
  • Facebook Acquires Sportstream
  • Lionsgate to Produce TV Show About Twitter
  • TNT’s MobCity “Adaptweetion” Further Blurs TV & Social
  • Zeebox Connects ‘Wendy Williams Show’ with Branded Social TV

Predictions for 2014

Andy Batkin
CEO, Social TV Summit

  • More Consolidation
  • More Technology and Media Companies Create their Own Online Video Networks
  • Networks Finally Start to Monetize Second Screen Sync to the Ad on TV
  • Facebook Makes a Number of Social TV Acquisitions
  • Networks Start Using Participation TV platforms rather then sending Traffic to Twitter
  • Local TV Stations make Participation TV investments for local news and morning shows
  • Brands get proactive to sponsor platforms that provide reach
  • Agencies start new Social TV divisions to create Social TV Solutions for the clients.

Mike Proulx
EVP, Digital & Director of Social Media,
Hill Holiday
Co-Author of Social TV

Second Screen Apps #miss: Lots of consolidation has been happening with social TV companies, the biggest of which was in the analytics sector in late 2012 and 2013 (SocialGuide, Bluefin Labs, Trendrr). Second screen TV apps will be a #miss this year as many will pivot, fold, or sell-out as the industry has matured around Twitter as the de facto app that mainstream audiences use while watching television. The one exception is second screen apps that are purposefully built for inherently interactive TV shows (i.e. NBC’s Million Second Quiz).

Snapchat #hit: As younger audiences flock to Snapchat, it’s the perfect platform for fans to connect and get “bite sized” pieces of content from their favorite TV series in between episode airings. HBO’s Girls is already paving the way for many more shows with teen and young adult followings to innovate on Snapchat as the breakout social TV #hit of 2014.

Brands + RTM #miss: Many brands continue to think that preying on big TV events in social media by live tweeting innocuous witticisms is an effective real-time marketing strategy. Without relevance and value, this is nothing more than pollution of the social TV backchannel. Yet we’ll unfortunately see more of this #miss in 2014. Brands that have restraint and are smart about when and how to engage in real-time are the ones who will be a #hit this year.

OTT Original Series #hit: With recognition at the 2013 Emmys and this year’s Golden Globe awards, Netflix Original Series have been recognized as being on par with the best of network and cable television. This momentum will lead to notable developments in the TV everywhere space, perhaps even tipping HBO to offer its HBO GO library as a stand-alone subscription service.

Gavin Douglas
Chief Commercial Officer, iPowow

Apparently fifty years ago Isaac Asimov predicted that, by 2014, ”Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone”. Not a bad prediction for fifty years out.

Let’s see how these predictions hold up for 2014:

  • Traditional TV competition shows like American Idol, X Factor and America’s Got Talent will begin to be replaced by Participation TV shows like Rising Star, where the TV audience controls the action in the studio in real time.
  • Facebook will acquire a social TV company. Although the list of potentials is getting smaller by the day, the social network giant will make good use of one of the current front runners to further engage TV audiences.
  • Social TV will need to redefine itself as the industry shakes itself out this year. The problem of lack of reach with the TV audience has led no monetization and no growth. Meanwhile, Participation TV will expand across television genres from Live Events and Sports into scripted shows, comedy and even second-run drama.
  • Bitcoins will stabilize, but then sink back into their own self-created fantasy land. Then again, not even the Bitcoin miners themselves really understand Bitcoins. So, who knows if it’s going to rule the world?
  • Apple will blow everyone’s mind with Apple TV, in an attempt to out-play Google and Samsung. That is, if Apple ever get around to launching it.
  • Finally, something I’ve always believed. In television and on the web, great content will continue rule the kingdom. A well told, compelling story will still be the only way to attract and hold an audience large enough for advertisers to want to monetize. Everything else will fail.

Let’s see how those will predictions hold up in the fastest changing industry on the planet. Then again, Isaac Asimov also predicted that by 2014 the robots would have taken over all of our daily work and we would now be living in a “society of enforced leisure”. Still waiting, Asimov, still waiting.

Anthony Rose
Co-founder & CTO, zeebox

Your next TV will run Android: Or if the TV itself isn’t running Android, then the dongle plugged into it that’s providing the content, will be. Okay, things won’t actually change that fast, but it makes a great headline.

A more accurate headline would be “you’ll start to see a slew of TVs and TV plug-in devices running Android, and the innovative 3rd-party apps that you’ll be able to run on those devices will finally change the way you find shows to watch and interact with those shows and other viewers”

Your TV will know the content that’s playing on it: Today’s TVs have no idea what’s actually on screen. New TVs will incorporate Automated Content Recognition (“ACR”) that can recognise which programme is playing, even if the signal comes from a set top box or DVD player, and provide that information to advertisers and content providers.

Your TV will sync with your mobile phone: Some new TVs allow you to use your iPhone as a remote control (the zeebox app can control many new smart TVs and STBs). But, starting soon, new TVs will also tell your phone what channel or show is playing, creating a seamless multi-screen proposition rather, which I’d like to call Particpation TV.

You’ll be playing a lot more video on demand on your TV: Smart TVs have been around for a few years now, but using their app stores has been just too much trouble to do regularly. Better TV app stores and user interfaces and the widepsread rollout of cloud PVR will change all that, and you’ll soon be using the apps on your TV almost as much as you watch live TV.

You’ll be using a companion viewing app while you watch TV: And saying inane things during Big Brother. And loving it.

Jeremy Toeman
CEO, Dijit Media Inc

In 2014 Social TV will evolve out of the drudgery of check-ins, hashtags, and likes, and into a measurable, trackable, and useful aspect of the TV watching experience.

From the consumer perspective, it’ll be easier to discover new shows from social tools, and share your experiences with friends or other show fans. Interacting with show casts, show runners, and the shows themselves will become more common.

Further, the industry will begin to find better fits between types of shows and types of social TV offerings as the concept becomes more and more fine-tuned for different genres and sub genres of shows.

Lastly, we’ll begin to form more predictive and accurate measures of the impact of these services.

David Beck
SVP & General Manager, Social Media
Univision Communications, Inc.

“Monetizing Social TV will get harder before it gets easier—and that’s a good thing”

Let’s be honest, currently there’s a considerable education gap with respect to Social TV. The term itself is so often confused with the terms “second screen” and “social marketing on TV”. But it’s getting better and as Social teams work more closely with show runners, television producers and sales teams, and in turn, with clients and agencies, the social education gap continues to shrink. And, as a result, more sponsored Social TV integrations will get executed.

Some will fail miserably, some will do OK and some will be very successful, yet viewed as failures because expectations were not properly set. As everyone gets smarter on the topic and more willing to put dollars behind integrations, there will inevitably be much more critical discussions and serious negotiations, not only about metrics and pricing, but also what’s considered “organic,” what’s a “good” integration and what’s a nails-on-the-chalkboard, cringe-inducing ad. My prediction is that monetization of what we call Social TV will continue to accelerate, but the process is probably going to feel more difficult and slow before it feels quick and easy.

Jesse Redniss
Chief Strategy Officer, Mass Relevance

Prediction 1: Power to the people. We will start to see even more content influenced by real-time social data and insights, which condense the research process into minutes, not weeks. We’ve seen the beginnings of this already with fan- voted endings and live audience voting, but Real Time CONTENT creation platforms will be exploding this year, and the savvy content creators will look to their rabid fans to help power the content engines even more than ever.

Prediction 2: Agencies change the channel to transmedia strategy. The union of Big Data with media strategy means that instead of just buying on-air ads, agencies will make more strategic buys, focusing on a balance of mass reach and networks with the most energized fans or the largest social footprint. The movement from strategic to adaptive marketing will create real-time campaigns that are relevant to consumers on a minute-by-minute basis. These agencies will look to activate across a multitude of screens at the same time and use the massive power of the On-Air play to act as a promotional catalyst for touch screen interaction.

Prediction 3. Second screen becomes almost second nature. When Dora the Explorer asks a question and pauses for an awkward four seconds, instead of yelling at the TV, children now are grabbing a tablet and answering the question. If you have young children, as I do, the targeted Facebook ads for Disney Junior “Appisodes” are ubiquitous.

These second-screen watch-along Appisodes aren’t just fun and engaging, they’re educational. Providing young children with a platform to touch, answer and engage with their shows, Dora and Boots can help teach your child how to count and spell, while you can track their progress on these apps. In 2014, this market will explode, funded by millennial digitally-native parents with infants and toddlers.