Today, many interact on Facebook and Twitter by using their laptops, tablets, or smartphones while watching television. But new technology may be melding this entertainment process into one device, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The new development, being produced by the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, could allow social media sites to be integrated with any show on any channel. The feature would display tweets about a program overlaid on top of the television image, and would recommend other programs based on the user's behavior and the taste of their Facebook friends.
It's about allowing people to engage a little more than they have been able to in the past with what they're watching, ACB's manager of new media services, Chris Winter, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Second-screen viewing, which is the tendency of television viewers to engage in social media activity through mobile devices, laptops, or tablets while watching a program, has already become standard for Americans. According to a survey from Nielsen, 86 percent of mobile Internet users interact with their mobile devices while watching TV.
I think the whole phenomenon of second screen viewing already exists, so there's an ability to make it a little more visible on television, said CEO of Short Stack Jim Belosic, an advertisement agency specializing in creating custom Facebook pages.
The move to create social media-integrated television takes the entertainment industry's inclination to social advertising even further. Applications designed to facilitate the second-screen experience, such as TV check-in app GetGlue and Zeebox, have seen generous investments this year. According to mobile industry news site GoMo, $12 million was invested in GetGlue and $32 million was invested into Shazam.
The television industry as a whole is exhibiting a distinct confidence and optimism toward social TV, wrote CEO and Co-founder of Screenreach Interact Paul Rawling in GoMo.
But with new technology also comes more questions. The integration of social media into television shows raises the question of moderation.
I definitely think we would have to wait until there was hardware with Wi-Fi enabled TVs so that you could have more control, said Belosic. We're still in the gap between generations now where a lot of users would be annoyed by a feed going across their screen all the time.
Another possible concern involves competition between major networks. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, recommendations selected for viewers would be based on posts from other users, not just content chosen by the broadcasters.
Let's say I'm watching ABC and a trending topic is another show on NBC, Belosic pointed out. If I'm allowing that on this channel, am I going to want to encourage people to go to NBC? I think broadcasters would have that hurdle to overcome.
With television shows launching promotional Twitter events and Facebook pages on a regular basis, mainstream TV is increasingly becoming a social element.
There would be more of an emphasis to get home and watch the thing live so that they can join in on the conversation, said Belosic. Using a DVR wouldn't have the same social experience.