Social TV: the other side of the coin

In my last post, I discussed how Social TV has brought social networking into the living room. But this is only one side of the coin. TV-enhancing applications and social recommendations are also shaping the modern viewing experience, affecting the content consumers watch and how they engage with it. These changes have impacted the TV industry, too, with broadcasters trying to capitalise on the explosion of second screen devices by creating their own companion apps. There are already several services designed for tablets and smartphones that do precisely that; encouraging users to engage with second screen devices while watching TV.

Shazam is one such platform. The latest version of the app is able to identify products in an advert or TV show. It’s limited in functionality right now, but once fully developed a viewer will be able to ‘Shazam’ a news programme, for example, and find out what dress or tie the presenter is wearing. This technology has the potential to drastically alter the way consumers engage with TV, and in turn emphasises how Smart TVs and second screens complement one another. Shazam, like many other companion apps, requires the user to be watching TV for the app to work – and this is representative of the entire Social TV phenomenon.

Viewers are also turning to social networks for content recommendations. According to the Guardian, modern viewers do not rely on traditional media to tell them what to watch. The growth of Social TV means they are more likely to trust peer-to-peer recommendations, and expect content to be available on demand when they’re ready to watch it.

It’s clear that Smart TV is not the right platform for Social TV engagement. Although tasks such as reading Twitter, searching the internet, or viewing a dedicated app are possible on a Smart TV, they would take over the viewing experience for the entire room. Watching TV is a communal activity designed to be shared with others. Performing these tasks on a smartphone or tablet, however, would not pose a problem – confirming the position of second screens as a companion device.

Ultimately, Social TV actions are better suited to a second screen device because they supplement the viewing experience rather than drive it. As viewers continue to watch on-demand video rather than terrestrial broadcasting, Smart TV will increasingly become the go-to platform through which to access this content.

To reiterate what I said in my last post, both Smart TV and second screen devices will be required for the future of Social TV.


About Navin Natoewal, General Manager Philips uWand

Navin Natoewal is General Manager of the Philips uWand team. uWand is a direct pointing and gesture control technology for remote controls. uWand offers fluent 3D gesture control and direct pointing capabilities with the same intuitiveness as a multi-touch screen. uWand, a result of 80 man-years of research and development, can be implemented in remote controls and interact with multiple electronic devices such as PCs, TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players and game consoles. Users control the devices simply by pointing in the appropriate direction or making specific movements in all three dimensions. For more information please visit
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