Facebook is Ready for its Social TV Close-Up

By Tara Seals October 11, 2013

Twitter keeps making headlines when it comes to its relationship with TV, but Facebook is upping its ante in the space as well. This week, it announced that it will provide data about its users’ comments related to major television programs to 10 networks in eight countries. And at MIPCOM, the company talked up why it’s just as well positioned as that other social network to tap the TV opportunity.

“Today, as you all know, the intersection of social media and television is a given,” said Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships at Facebook, speaking at MIPCOM. “Nowadays, it’s hard to look at the channels without seeing social media integration everywhere you look. Social media has truly become an inseparable part of the television experience. Everywhere you look, you see Facebook, Instagram and Twitter being integrated into the television broadcast.”

Digital research firm Futurescape said that the global TV business is projected to be a cumulative $250 billion by 2014, making for enormous opportunity for the social network that gets the social TV model right.

Facebook has begun to collate data on how many likes, comments and shares related to certain TV programs and events, offering the data to networks and TV stations in order to boost the value of their advertising spots by pointing out social “buzz.”  The service is available in the United States as well as to international partners like TF1 in France, Channel 4 in the U.K., ARD in Germany, Esporte Interativo in Brazil and STAR networks in India.

Image via Shutterstock

"Facebook and Twitter buzz affects TV ratings, while broadcasters that use the social networks for viewer engagement are effectively sharing their audiences with them," noted a Futurescape report released this week.

“TV has always been a deeply social activity,” Rose said. “We love to watch TV with other people around us, because the medium itself lends itself to being a shared experience. We also make choices about which shows to watch based on recommendations-from our friends,” he noted. “When the show ends, we talk about it with family and friends. It’s always been the same, but obviously the technology has changed.”

“Now, instead of calling my friends to make sure they are watching the news about the Royal Baby, I post to Facebook, and make sure my friends are tuned in,” he said. “And this is the ultimate irony: the second screen, instead of drawing people away from TV, is pushing people towards TV.”

Miley Cyrus’ performance with Robin Thicke during the MTV Video Music Awards in August elicited actions from nine million people, or 90 percent of viewers, on Facebook. There were 26 million interactions about the performance. A 2010 Facebook “like” campaign to have actress Betty White host Saturday Night Live generated 500,000 “likes” and convinced SNL to bring her in—the episode went on to become the highest-rated in two years. And, the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs generated 125 million interactions, according to Rose.

In addition to the “action” data on specific programs, Facebook has been working with television broadcasters to give them access to real-time public posts of users to use them in live events.

"One of the main commercial goals is to be the real-time conversation service that runs alongside major live viewing events, such as the Super Bowl or the Oscars," Futurescape said. "Such conversations are already increasingly integrated on broadcasters' Web sites, via Facebook and Twitter social plug-ins."

It added, "The television is already becoming a social device, as Google TV, Yahoo Connected TV, CE manufacturers and pay-TV operators race to connect TV sets to the Internet."

Edited by Alisen Downey

TechZone360 Contributor

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