nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

The buzz about buzz: social TV is the conversation

Variety engagement index

Yesterday, Carat released data showing how important social TV has become to the live television experience. Today, Variety announced a new social buzz Index and Netflix announced a needed adjustment to its social connection. It seems that the industry has a buzz about buzz.

In my piece yesterday about the BBC iPlayer results for June 2014 I discussed new data from the UK that shows second screening and, in particular, social TV are becoming increasingly important in bringing people back to linear television. The evidence is mounting that social TV provides far more benefit to the media industry than just that. Social is proving its ability to forecast if a show or movie will be hit before it is released. It is being leveraged to boost the value of TV advertising. It’s even being used to improve the experience of video itself.

Little wonder that Variety has just announced a new weekly engagement measurement called Digital Audience Rating (DAR) which the publication hopes will help quantify the social buzz about movies and TV. ListenFirst Media created DAR and will make its results available exclusively through Variety. ListenFirst analyzes social interactions through Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube. It aggregates data from conversations using hashtags that can be isolated to a particular show or movie.

In the first weekly DAR for television Jimmy Kimmel Live was top with a rating of 23.9 million, followed by The Simpsons with a rating of 20.1 million. Jimmy Kimmel struck it big because of a Friends reunion skit featuring several of the original cast members. The Simpsons did well due to Homer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge issued to Donald Trump.

Netflix seems to have not quite figured out social TV yet. In March 2013 the company added the ability for customers to link their Netflix account with Facebook. Unfortunately, the feature was very limited. Once enabled, everything a subscriber watches is posted to the social site. It appears not very many customers were happy with that, because Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation at Netflix, announced that subscribers can now control which shows they recommend and who can see the posts.

Ms. Johnson admitted that not many Netflix subscribers have linked their Netflix and Facebook accounts. This is a problem for the OTT streaming site. As the UK Carat data shows, 20% of people get recommendations from friends and family about what to watch next. Getting more people to link their Netflix account to Facebook and start posting about their viewing habits will allow the SVOD provider to benefit from this proclivity to be influenced by friends. This should provide two important benefits for the company:

  1. Help drive subscriptions by highlighting the quality content available in the service
  2. Allow existing customers get more value from their subscription, and thereby retain them as members longer.

To understand some of the other important benefits of integrating social TV with video services you should download the free White Paper What Millennials Want from TV.

Why it matters

New UK data highlights how social media can help drive live TV engagement.

However, social TVs impact is being felt much more broadly than that.

A testament to social TV’s importance is that Variety has introduced a new engagement index based entirely on social interaction.

Successful services such as Netflix are also recognizing that they need to do better in this area.

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