Social TV has brought a new dimension to broadcast. It comes at a point when time shifted viewing is challenging many of the norms of our industry. Social media is also bringing new ways to measure audiences, not just in numerical terms but in how they feel, react and even engage with television. The ability to interact directly with a programme or with other viewers also gives the audience an incentive to watch broadcast television in real time.
SecondSync is a new technology that provides social analytics for TV viewing. The platform analyses conversations around TV broadcasts. It’s a way of observing audience reactions that complements existing ratings information. It provides the opportunity for producers and broadcasters to listen in at the virtual water cooler.
SecondSync monitors around 1000 UK broadcasts daily and is being used by the BBC, UKTV, FremantleMedia and now Channel 4, who announced their partnership with the technology firm on October 25. “Our audience is ahead of the curve when it comes to dual screening and it is vital that we understand the implications this has for our programming and advertising” said Sue Gray, Head of Advertising Research & Development at Channel 4.
The concept of second screen viewing hasn’t been around for all that long and measuring the impact of social interaction on viewing is still very much an emerging concept. However it’s easy to see how it could become really powerful. Historically our analysis has been largely data driven and devoid of qualitative feedback. We have been able to find out what kind of people watch our programmes and in what numbers but not what they think or how much they are enjoying something, unless we have to employ focus groups or commission in depth research. That can be a very expensive business. Tracking social media can give us authentic and immediate feedback. It’s going to be more effective for some programmes than others – big audience entertainment and some current affairs panel programmes already have a huge volume of social commentary. We believe that social analytics will rapidly becoming a vital resource in understanding the viewers’ relationship with TV.