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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 20, 2011

Social TV Grew In 2011 as Providers Offered 'Hybrid' Content

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Looking back at 2011, there were a lot of important events in the world of technology and social media. But one of the most striking ones relates to what is being called “social TV.”

In the old days, such as the 1950s and 1960s, families would huddle around a TV set much like it was a working fireplace. They’d watch programs and maybe share responses. Now in the 2010s, individuals are finding new uses for TVs and TV content, and still are sharing responses, but now with the wider world.

Twitter (News - Alert) is a good example. TMCnet reported recently how tweetTV provides users a “hybrid.”

“It helps a viewer discover in real time what is there to watch,” explains TMCnet’s Carolyn Dawson. “It is also a social platform whereby one can interact with the thousands of folks who watch the same program.”

In addition, Twitter collaborated with the popular X Factor USA TV show this year to provide viewers a “live social voting mechanism” while the program is being broadcast, according to an analysis on ReadWriteWeb by John Paul Titlow.

“The volume of TV-related chatter on Twitter, combined with the marketing budgets of TV studios and networks, make it a win for both sides,” Titlow commented. In addition, during the past year, digital marketers formed “the first trade group for advertisers and marketers” who want to take advantage of television being connected to the Internet.

Also, some 86 percent of the users of tablets and smartphones use their device as they view television, Titlow reports citing a  study from Yahoo. Some viewers post tweets or comments on Facebook (News - Alert) that relate to the TV shows as they watch them, according to Titlow. The devices are also being used to find out items related to the TV programs, he adds.

Many viewers also watched TV programs on tablets during 2011. NBC now provides an iPad app that gives some access to recent programs, and HBO Go is offered to cable subscribers, according to Titlow. In addition, Comcast (News - Alert) lets subscribers stream limited content from the Xfinity iPad app, Titlow adds, as Comcast is also trying out live TV broadcasts over the Internet.

In the year ahead, Titlow tells us to watch out for Apple (News - Alert) TV sets, as well as new and less-expensive tablets being offered.

The media of 2012 and of the future appear to be based on that hybrid mix TMCnet predicts. It’s a long way from the 1950s.

Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves