Television as we know it is coming to an end.
Just as iTunes revolutionized the way people purchase and listen to music, the second screen is transforming how people consume television. The message can no longer be delivered in a linear one stop fashion. It has to be presented in a way that is both dynamic and interactive. Audiences are craving more from their media and that is why second screen media applications are swooping in to redefine how television is watched.
Although it seems as if this has all been revolutionary at its heart is one fundamental truth: people love being told a story. The way the story is being told has changed and it will change many times more but at the end of the day a compelling story is what drives the entire machine and as long as that exists so will an audience.
The Audience is in Control
The TV viewing audience is no longer passively staring at a television. In fact, they aren’t even limiting themselves to a single screen. According to Microsoft Advertising, 33 million American consumers regularly engage in multiple screens simultaneously. People are now accustomed to constant stimulus from the world around them that can be provided by their smartphones, tablets and PC’s.
Despite this influx of multi-screen distractions, audiences are actually more engaged than ever. Water cooler television talk has evolved into never ending virtual discussion. More than ever, people are actively participating in the storytelling process. People don’t just want to watch television; they want to experience it.
The Social Media Effect
The audience has been empowered by social media. It has become a constant companion for television viewers. We now live in a culture where waiting to talk TV around the water cooler is no longer enough. According to Ericsson Consumer Lab, a staggering 40% of consumers use social media while watching television. Fans want to react instantly to what happens on their favorite shows and they’re utilizing social media to express themselves in real time.
Social media buzz can now change the narrative of a show. Just last week Twitter virtually exploded, when beloved Family Guy character Brian, was killed off the show. It remains to be seen whether or not their outrage will amount to anything but the fact that they were able to voice their anger on such a large scale via several different social media platforms is astounding.
Gamification and the Future of Television
Social TV has long since been establishing itself as the very best of interactive second screen media. Applications such as Viggle, Get Glue, and my own platform Insticator.com, have succeeded in making watching television a participatory experience that relies on the complete engagement of the user. Insticator deepens that immersive quality by offering its users real life prizes for making predictions about their favorite programs. The satisfaction of watching their favorite television shows coupled by incentive to win makes applications like Insticator both addictive and desirable to the consumers living in the digital age. Gamification is taking the concept of audience interaction one giant leap further. Not only is the audience now being heard, they are being listened to. The synergy created by gamification will not only ensure that audiences grow but that they will remain invested for their programs entire duration.
Looking to the Future
Social TV is strengthening the bond between viewer and network and I can say with full confidence that this is the future of television viewing. The medium has been forever changed and it is only getting more exciting. With this new type of audience it will fall on the networks to create worlds worth immersing themselves in and an application such as Insticator is essential to ensuring that consumer interest is maintained.
So, get out those smartphones and get in the game.