Social TV is getting a lot of attention at CES. Everyone from Panasonic and Samsung to Netgear are announcing major social TV initiatives. Both Panasonic and Samsung are aiming to integrate social content from Facebook and Twitter directly into a TV’s main interface. They see the future dominated by cross-platform experiences blended on a single screen (this topic is open to significant debate).
I would not begin to argue the value of social media as a powerful complement to TV. I’m the first person to recommend checking out Twitter hashtags and Instagram feeds during live sporting events and award shows. I do, however, question whether the mainstream TV viewer will ever share my fervor for tapping into real-time social media content.
Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are powerful forces that are only increasing in societal relevance. But, getting the average person to clamor for a combined social media and live TV experience on his 42″ flat screen is an Empire State Building sized hurdle to overcome. I think content providers have a much greater chance to succeed in this area than hardware manufacturers.
Companies like Mass Relevance are spearheading this movement, giving networks such as MTV and ESPN the tools to best integrate social media content into their programs. Blending Tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts effectively into a television program is both art and science. It’s not going to be solved with add-on widgets.
Now, getting an average person, while he’s watching TV, to access relevant social media content on his tablet or smart phone lowers the wall a bit. It’s still high, but a much more reasonable obstacle to overcome. Major television networks and startups alike are all attempting to crack that nut. To do so well, they must quickly and effectively filter the best social content from the overwhelming stream of user-generated media that is overflowing the pipes.