Is really Social TV ready to bring us the TV of the future?

I’ve been scouting for Social TV frameworks at IBC this year and I still see a lot of work to be done in this direction to successfully blend the TV experience with digital media (namely Mobile Apps, Web and Social Networks); here follow a the list of challenges that needs to be accomplished based on the demos I saw from leading companies like and Visiware (companies that are putting a great effort in this direction and are starting to gather the attention of broadcasters and production companies): 

  • Tv contents are still mostly designed as they were 5 or 10 years ago and though we heard a lot about native interactive formats we still see low interactive patterns being ‘glued’ to traditional Tv formats – we would like to see interactivity as part of the narrative 
  • The connection between the screens is mostly based on the timeline, we rarely see a topic/community centered framework around which the show is produced – we pretend the user stays focused on the show neglecting the fact that most of the times we access the 2nd screen trying to ‘escape’ from the boredom of the 1st screen – there is a lot more then keeping in sync the screens 
  • Moving the video from one screen to the other, letting the user keep track of the contents he/she is watching while moving between different devices and/or different time slots doesn’t seem to be other then a technological issue and is not part of the applications I’ve been reviewing – segmenting contents and profiling viewers to enable a much more dynamic consumption of TV contents can bring a great benefit to broadcasters and content owners (who says that we still have to deal with traditional tv show lenghts when we can keep playing the same content every time we want?)
  • All the tools I went through put an high focus on the moderation rather then on search patterns, context filtering and social influence; user-generated contents are added to the show like salt and pepper – shouldn’t we put the audience more in control if we want to bring the power of Social Media to the TV? Same is valid for the so called ‘gamification’ of TV that is still intended as an on-top feature rather then a key element of the show.
It all comes down to keeping the user in control rather then mimic the patterns of traditional TV programs with some web and mobile interactions – are we building the Tv of the future or are we just too afraid our audiences is already watching something else? 


Ahmed ElMeligy

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