What is the Canadian Content of social TV? From Search to Screen has looked at the larger picture of using social media and the second screen to engage with friends around TV shows, but how and what is Canada doing? This issue takes a closer look at how the major television networks and home grown series are leveraging social TV and the online conversations it makes possible.
Current Social TV Statistics
I reported on some social TV statistics six months ago, but a new report just released by Viacom sheds even more light on how viewers are engaging. This report shows the top three social TV activities can be categorized as follows:
- Communicating (56% of survey respondents prefer using a social TV app to communicate and smartphones dominate the use of apps at 82%);
- Consuming content (The most desired content is full-length episodes – 88%, followed by sneak peeks of new episodes – 75%, behind-the-scenes extras – 71%, and highlight clips – 71%. And the majority of TV socializers are interested in rewards with real value, like free merchandise or signed cast photos);
- Checking comments (Viewers want to hear most from a show’s cast and crew, followed by the people they know. They look for authenticity and prefer the stars to be in character).
(Note: Although the content point above is interesting, I don’t feel this really qualifies as “social” as it is not truly facilitating or engaging in the conversation that is at the heart of the social TV experience. This speaks more to mobile than social.) The study also shows that (not surprisingly) these activities were twice as likely to happen during live TV rather than time-shifted viewing. Social TV fans reported feeling “left out” of the conversation if they missed the original synchronous broadcast. Interestingly, the study found the leading source of discovery for social TV services is through search (38%), followed by social networks (26%) and ads run on shows (22%). For the purpose of this analysis I will focus on the communications aspect above, as I believe that is where the second screen experience truly exemplifies “social” TV.
The Canadian Social TV Audience
In Canada, the television viewing audience is made up of 33.6 million people in over 40 markets and in almost 14 million households. A recent study shows that 35% of Canadians have accessed online content related to TV programming they were watching at the time (up from 31% in 2010) and among those respondents social media sites such as Facebook were accessed by 42% (up from 26% in 2010). This means that almost 12 million people in this country are engaged in social TV activities. This is a significant and important television audience (although adoption of this behaviour seems to be slower here than in the UK and US). How are Canadian TV networks and series making the most of this audience?
Canadian Broadcasters & Social TV
Seevibes recently did a survey of social media use by major Canadian broadcasters. In the English market they looked at CTV, CBC, Global and Citytv. They produced an infographic on Twitter vs. Facebook use for each broadcaster and its top four shows during the month of April 2012:
I was especially interested in how this interaction skewed for the CanCon shows: On CTV only Canadian Flashpoint made the top four and skews almost exclusively to Twitter; on CBC fiction series Heartland and Republic of Doyle conversations lived mostly on Facebook, while non-fiction Dragon’s Den and Fifth Estate skewed strongly for Twitter; Global seems to favour Twitter for all its shows including Entertainment Tonight Canada; and Citytv’s Canada’s Got Talent also mostly engaged on Twitter. These show conversations are happening beyond any apps, and as the Viacom study above shows apps are still one of the favourite ways for social TV enthusiasts to engage with their favourite shows and fellow audience members.
Examples of CanCon Social TV Apps & Campaigns
There are a number of apps in Canada that push out video and other content. These are not included below as they are not part of an online conversation. There are, however, quite a few apps for this purpose that are highlighted below:
- CTV Social App – Besides video content and programming schedules, this app can be synced with Facebook and Twitter and also, during select live broadcasts, opens a moderated chat.
- Global Video App – Primarily for delivery of video and other content, this app does include a “companion” app for the US show Survivor that allows viewers to play along with others during broadcast.
Series specific apps
- Canada’s Got Talent App (Citytv) – App for social chatter around show as well as content about host and judges, access to the LIVE Excel Refresh Lounge, and the ability to be an At Home Judge with your very own buzzer (integrating voting through Facebook & Twitter as well).
- Citytv Social Stream for The Bachelor – An app for chatting with others, sharing comments on Facebook and Twitter, as well as some additional in- app content and notifications about when the show will be airing.
- Canada’s Smartest Person Facebook App (CBC) – Allows viewers to compete in real time with on air players (which reached 30,000 downloads during the show’s first season with 50% following through with every challenge)
Other Canadian social TV apps
- Tapcast – An app from a Toronto company that syncs mobile and TV experience and offers broadcasters such features as Social Chat, Friends, Interactive, and Show Metadata.
- Get Glue – This popular check-in app signed an exclusive short term contract with Shaw allowing viewers to compare notes on CanCon titles including Top Chef Canada, Lost Girl and Real Housewives of Vancouver.
Other app-less social TV campaigns
- Battle Castle (Shaw) continues to run a strong social media campaign for its show which just finished airing its premier season on History Television. Grounded in a record breaking Facebook page in terms of engagement (more than double the number of fans as its Canadian broadcaster) the show also includes an active Twitter feed and YouTube channel.
- Spelling Night in Canada (CBC) offered home viewers the chance to play along and compete via Twitter (@SpellingNight).
- Power & Politics (CBC News) has a highly engaged audience on Twitter and Facebook and is using technology provided by Norwegian company never.no to source live comments from social media and select the most relevant comments to be displayed on-air. It also includes a “Ballot Box” that allows the broadcaster to set up real-time opinion polls on Facebook and have the results published in on-air graphic systems.
- Cover Me Canada (CBC) was the first reality elimination show in North America to use “social voting” with fan activity on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube video views determining the show outcome.
What Do You Think?
Have you participated in any truly Canuck social TV experiences? Did it add to or detract from your enjoyment of the television show? I’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Or revisit the previous issue: 5 Uses for Your SEO Language Ecosystem