I have the blessing of being a super geeky millennial. Seriously. It’s such a gift seeing the world around me change so drastically, so quickly, while being a part of it all from a such a young age.
Since then, I’ve devoured and witnessed every piece of the Internet culture I could wrap my mind around. I witnessed the birth of ecommerce, video sharing, social networking, digital music. So, naturally, being a child of Gen Y, I’ve developed a sense tuned into the ebb and flow of these trends and movements that happen so frequently. And, right now, my radar is really picking up on Social TV. Here’s why…
People have always had love affairs with the TV shows they watch. This isn’t a big surprise to anyone. I mean, you should have seen my friend Kristi watching the season finale of The Walking Dead a few weeks ago. TV shows are an escape from reality, in which we emotionally submerge ourselves.
People have immersed their lives in social networking. This probably doesn’t come as a big surprise, either. But, here’s what IS surprising: Facebook, according to papers filed in February with the SEC in preparation for their IPO, stated they had 845 million monthly active users. With updated papers filed last week, Mark Zuckerberg and Co. shared that number has risen 16 million to a whopping 901 million active users. Analysts are predicting they’ll hit 1 billion users by the end of 2012. That means 1 in 7 people on the entire planet has a Facebook profile. Incredible.
Twitter shared recently they have about 500 million users registered, but only see 145 million monthly active users. Not Facebook impressive, but still… Impressive.
The bottom line: We’re playing our lives out online. Our passions. Our thoughts. Our disappointments. And, what we’re watching on TV… while we are actually watching it… in a really big way, because of the…
The radical emergence of the second screen. The second screen is any device–laptop, tablet, smartphone–you are using while you watch a TV show (live or DVR’d), especially if you’re using that device to interact with or look up information about what you’re watching.
The penetration of this trend is pretty remarkable. According to a Nielsen report about global second screen use, nearly 90% of tablet and smartphone users have used their device while tuning into TV shows. 45% of those people do so on a daily basis–splitting their time between checking email, checking IMDb and Wikipedia for info about what they’re watching, finding information about the promotions and advertising they’re seeing and, of course, social networking their butts off.
The second screen has opened up a whole new world of possibility to do some really neat things.
WHAT’S IT ALL MEAN?
People, at a critical scale, are fanatical about the TV shows they watch, to the tune of 35 hours per week on average for the typical American. People, at a critical scale, are spending nearly 16 hours a month on Facebook alone. And, now, thanks to the second screen movement, people have a convenient time and place to play all this out… On the couch. In front of the TV.
What I and many others (including the TV networks) are doing right now is figuring out how we tie people closer with what is happening on their TV via the second screen to create deeper, longer lasting experiences.
And, frankly, the fact that my mom AND my grandma have a Kindle Fire they use in front of the TV doing the things everyone else is doing (email, Facebook, IMDb) is enough evidence for me that something is about to pop off in a big way around Social TV. I can’t say if 2012 will the year of Social TV, but it will certainly be an exciting year of innovation and user engagement in the space.