Television, along with much of the media industry, has had a rather troubled relationship with the web. Much of their efforts seem to have revolved around trying to stop people doing things, whether it’s uploading material to YouTube or sharing files on peer to peer networks. Indeed so much effort has gone into trying to stop people doing these things that they haven’t really grasped the positive benefits of the social web.
As such the void has primarily been filled by third parties. For instance the biggest forum for chatting about your favourite tv shows in Britain is Digital Spy, and not a site owned by any of the major networks. Indeed none of the major networks really have any facilities whereby fans can meet and discuss their favourite shows.
Suffice to say that this is a fairly basic level of interaction, and there are many other uses for which social media can help television companies. It’s a topic that Shawndra Hill from Wharton has been investigating over at her social tv lab. You can see an interview with her about her research below.
So how can social media aid the television industry? It seems that the vast majority of social media usage by TV companies is aimed purely at getting people talking more. The researchers found examples of TV shows prompting people to tweet about the show and thus guide the discussion a bit, but that’s pretty much it.
It’s basically mirroring the rest of the commercial world in using social media for branding purposes rather than anything more meaningful. Whilst the research found a nice example of the Chevy car company crowdsourcing their Super Bowl advert, that was as far as it went, and there didn’t appear to be any evidence of producers using fans during the creation of a show, or even doing any significant listening to determine the success of their shows.
So I’d say the media industry has a long way to go before it’s a truly social tv business.