Lift-off: Future of Social TV

I’m happy to be the first to say — Welcome to the Wowza Blog.

For those that don’t know us, Wowza Media Systems is a software company that is completely focused on streaming media, video or audio, to any device. When Charlie and I started this company nearly seven years ago, we were going down a different product path. However we discovered there wasn’t any server software that we were comfortable building a business upon. In addition, no one was concentrating on streaming software as a company. We know video is hard — especially live video — so we set out with one goal in mind: we'll make it work.

Along the way, we have grown Wowza the company with incredibly talented people; people who will be sharing with you their thoughts on everything from the streaming industry to “how-to’s” to interesting ways Wowza software is used. I hope you are as excited as I am to see what they have to say.

Let me go ahead and light the engines—

I was recently asked to give my opinion on the future of social TV. Here’s my take:

With all the buzz surrounding the emergence of social TV, it’s easy to think it’s an entirely new concept. But the fact of the matter is, TV has always been social. Over the last decade, the way humans socialize has changed dramatically with the rise of social networking, which in turn, has driven a transformation in the way we experience TV. Now, audiences don’t need to gather together around the same set, but instead can share in the viewing experience with friends, family and complete strangers located around the globe.

“Second screen” technologies like tablets, smartphones and even laptops allow us to share the experience as a community, despite being separated by miles and sometimes even oceans. In fact, 40% of viewers use a second screen while watching TV daily. And, a September 2012 Nielsen survey found that nearly 50% of U.S. Internet users began watching a TV program because of opinions they read on Facebook.

In many ways, the “new” social TV is making the viewing experience even more of an event than ever before. Broadcasters can now actively engage viewers on social platforms and viewers can interact with, and even influence, the content they see on TV. The dynamic is creating exciting opportunities for content producers, broadcasters, advertisers and viewers alike. And it’s only just begun, according to Gartner, which predicts that second-screen devices will drive social TV consumption over the next two years.

Here is my first prediction about what we can expect to see in the coming year.

Time-shifting the Social Element
More than one-third of worldwide weekly TV consumption is now viewed as recorded content. The proliferation of DVR technology has put viewers in control of when and where they watch, which creates challenges in advertising, measurement and, for now, social integration.

However, new technologies are on the horizon that will give broadcasters the ability to time-shift the social aspect just as viewers time-shift their viewing. We’re getting a taste of it now, with some broadcasters including a live Twitter feed ticker at the bottom of the screen during the original airing of the program, which, of course, is recorded along with the program.

But, imagine being able to take that a step further, to embed the entire social feed from multiple platforms directly into the replay. With the ability to time code the social interaction with the recorded content, viewers can catch up to and interact with the discussion surrounding the premiere of “Game of Thrones” or the season finale of “The Office” even days after they’ve aired. The technology not only provides a richer experience for the viewer, but also gives content creators the opportunity to extend “the buzz” beyond the initial air date.

Next prediction: Part 2 – Streaming Live TV

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About Dave Stubenvoll

David Stubenvoll is a streaming-industry veteran, launching Wowza Media Systems with Charlie Good to fill a stark void in the industry: the lack of flexible, robust media server software on which to build reliable streaming. Wowza is Dave’s fifth new business venture, having previously served as entrepreneur in residence at Adobe Systems and as CEO/cofounder of Freeworks. Dave has also held senior positions at Intuit and served as president of GALT Technologies (an Intuit subsidiary).