Television in the social era: It’s not about your audience

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Yes yes we get it, television is getting more social and we can now follow are favourite TV shows on Twitter and Like them on Facebook. Smart TVs allow us to watch and share and that’s pretty awesome, but what does all that actually mean for the future of the telly?

According to John Cabral of Viacom Media Networks, a new medium is on its way. Speaking at the Korea Communications Conference, Cabral argues that the “current distinctions between the internet and will disintegrate and new medium will be established.”

Cabral believes this new medium will challenge traditional models of entertainment moving “intertainment” (internet oriented entertainment) beyond television. He reckons this will force media creators to rethink how they produce content and the importance of social media.

Cabral believes this new medium will require broadcasters to think more about not just broadcasting to their audiences but the audiences’ audience as well.

This has made television social, leaving us with “social tv”.

Some of the key features of this new medium include:

  • Explosion of user participation through social networking
  • More screens, increased portability and interfaces
  • Greater aggregation, discovery and availability of media
  • Two-way streaming that allows users to contribute and become broadcasters
  • Scheduling and media assembly moving into the home
  • Better understanding of user engagement and greater measurement of behaviour

According to Cabral, users need to want to participate in and contribute to media production. Soon media will be more about the users than the media creators or the content created. Cabral cites user-generated content platforms such as YouTube, CNN iReport, Justin.tv and Livestream as markers of where the future of broadcast and intertainment is headed.

This presents broadcasters with new the challenge of getting the audience’s attention. Cabral believes there is a solution.

“Don’t silo your thinking about content in terms of where it will be seen or how it will be delivered — think about all touchpoints, devices and mediums in a cohesive way,” he says.

He also recommends that broadcasters stop using social media as a marketing tool and “recognise digital and social media as storytelling media, not marketing tools or places to repurpose other content.”

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