Social Media Sites to Transform into the New TV

Posted: April 8, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
It’s time for another upgrade.

Since Friendster’s entry into the online space in 2002, our lives have changed forever. The likes of MySpace, Orkut, Bebo, Hi-5, Tagged, Youtube, and Facebook have massively followed suit and built a steady stream of applications affecting how we now interact with others globally and soon, how we’ll consume goods, services, and media.

The New Friendster

I am not putting out stats which already abound online anyway. I don’t want to add to the confusion. I just want to play a seer for today and write down what I feel where all these are going.

About 50 years of TV — practically a full generation — is up for an upgrade. It’s really not the medium per se that will be changing but it’s how people consume TV content. The entry of Youtube has spurred this development. Many who have TV-capture devices now upload TV content which are viewed by at their own time and convenience. Despite the low resolution, people who are so busy suddenly have a resource to catch on TV viewing — even without a TV set. All they need is a netbook or an Internet cafe and voila!

My more than 20 years in advertising has given the unique opportunity to study the growth of advertising media and how people have attached to them. Television in particular has exploited the growth of its audience and translated it into billions of dollars in revenue through the years. Whether free or cable TV, this medium has been consumed at the whim and will of its owners. The TV audience has always been at their mercy, wherein the broadcast honchos themselves dictated which programs went into primetime and which were relegated into “lower” viewing times. That’s changing.

As bandwidth and Internet connection become cheaper, wi-fi becomes more widespread, and even mobile phones become better equipped to consume video, more and more providers will produce applicable content.

IPTV

IPTV Screen

In 1994, ABC’s “World News Now was supposedly the first TV program broadcast over the net using a videoconferencing software called “CU-Seeme.” However, the term IPTV first appeared in 1995 with the founding of Precept Software by Judith Estrin and Bill Carrico. Precept, which was later acquired by Cisco Systems in March 11, 1998, designed and built an Internet video product named IP/TV.

IPTV is an abbreviation of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). It describes a system capable of receiving and displaying a video stream encoded as a series of Internet Protocol packets. It’s simply watching TV or video on your computer screen, whether streamed as live or pre-recorded. If TV stations lorded it over television content and its broadcast into our sets, the telcos, who lord it over the bandwidth of the Internet, is poised to take over the same delivery of content.

An IP network enables two-way communication in the video connection. With IPTV, viewers can interact with a video service to, for example, order and play video on-demand (VOD) content, change channels, or control playback of a live broadcast. Because these services are controlled from one source, solutions can be created to integrate such services.

With continuous improvements in data transfer speeds, because of the digital subscriber line (DSL), many broadband service providers, which includes cable and satellite TV carriers, are well-positioned to deliver IPTV services. For example, more and more telcos throughout the world are replacing copper with fiber, enabling VDSL (very high bit-rate DSL) with rates that top 50 megabits per second (Mbps).

What’s lacking in IPTV, however, are targeted audiences that do not compete with traditional TV. The wide spectrum of the Internet limits the large-scale promotion and use of IPTV in general, except for specific programs that attract collectively large audiences like a Manny Pacquio Fight which was cornered by PLDT through its Watchpad DSL facility. They are now testing IPTV’s power.

User-Generated Videos as Catalyst

The rise of user-generated content in less than a decade has built a new attitude on how audiences consume media. In TV for example, reality TV-types of programs have become more and more popular. Programs such as Big Brother, Project Runway, Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Apprentice have further helped this uptrend. This trend in programming has simply translated how we want to view life in general: reality-only please.

User-generated videos in particular are the result of camera-equipped cellphones and cheaper digicams that have spurred the birth of Youtube. Youtube in turn, has further pushed the use of these gadgets to their full potential. Today, a cellphone can be used to broadcast news (no matter how grainy). In the Philippines, if text messages were used to depose the country’s former President, it is now being used to send news on the coming May 2010 elections.

A Captured Audience

It is therefore not surprising that Social Networking Sites (SNS), with their captured audience, will soon be used as TV-viewing platforms. With IPTV, this one is definitely in the works.

Today, Social Networking Sites use games, gifts and tons of free value-added services to stay liquid. They use their vast audience to reel in advertisers and spenders on games. Well, if a site such as Facebook with 350 million users will make US$ 1.00 from each user a year, then that’s a revenue of US$ 350 million annually!

Why not merge IPTV and SNS? We know that TV, besides radio and print, is a huge money-maker from advertising dollars. No need for expensive survey ratings. The back-end features of SNS has audience viewing figures worked out as the old click-through and engagement rates are already in place. Besides, each SNS has its own captured audience base to brag about. IPTV shall only be an added feature. Nobody needs to switch to the TV set anymore, unless the LCD screen is used for both TV viewing and PC use.

This feature in Social Networking Sites can include: digital broadcast TV, pay-per-view, community TV, video-on-demand (VoD), and subscription VoD .

Lean-Forward vs. Laid Back Viewing

Lean-Forward Advertising Opportunity

Technology is definitely an enabler. Online and mobile sites can enable pinpoint targeting for advertisers based on specific data of users which the providers have. This creates direct advertising that can direct advertising through viewing schedules or time slots and specific programs audiences watch.

When advertising is consumed before the start of a TV program which normally happens while content is “buffering,” this practically eliminates channel surfing which is the case in regular TV viewing. This concept is called “lean-forward” viewing versus that of regular TV’s laid-back viewing. This presents a better opportunity for advertisers to get their message across targeted audiences.

Enabling Users to Produce TV Content

So it will follow that more and more independent producers of TV content will arise from SNS-directed television. As Social Networking is all about user-generated content, it shall only follow that the same audience may be able to produce and “share” their own content.

Home-based businesses will be spawned by home-based TV productions. I say, these will invade mobile phones as well, thus, spawning mobile video viewing. So instead of the usual 45-minute programs, we will be producing 5 to 10-minuters. In turn, advertising will be more of 5-seconders than the usual 30-seconders. I also see more and more subliminal and in-program ads that shall be made part of the programs themselves. I won’t be surprised, too, if advertisers themselves create their own TV or video programs so they can control content and sponsor the whole thing.

Let’s see if these will come to pass. It’s a wild world out there!

Some Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTV

http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2006/03/iptv.ars

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