Despite the incredible success of on demand television and catch up services, the social web encourages fans to watch live shows in order not to feel left out of the community.

Live TV brings out the best in social show viewing

Timeshifting has drastically changed how television viewers watch shows. Whether based on cable or set-top services like On Demand, TiVo, etc, or Internet-based TV services like Hulu, people access their favorite shows when they want them, as well as view live programs when it’s convenient. This might have displaced the role that live programs play in popular media or even in the TV industry, but augmenting the experience with a social experience can recontextualize Live TV for this new environment. Viacom’s study, “Social TV: Viewers C’s The Moment” examines social TV from the viewer’s point of view. Viewers engage with these activities at least weekly - watching with others, searching for supplemental content and viewing clips on social networks. They most often use social TV to communicate, consume content and check comments.

Viewers make their own social interface while watching…

Social TV users create an ad hoc communications system, often by using several protocols at once. One respondent has 10 Facebook chats, a dozen SMS conversations and a phone call going on during a typical Jersey Shore session. Chat feature preferences are varied across viewers, but over half prefer communicating through social TV apps and services, Facebook and texts. A smaller but significant group (38 percent) also like to use Skype or Apple Facetime, and most check-in service users use Foursquare or a similar app to show their friends (71 percent) or other fans of the show (64 percent) that they are watching.

…And want to share exclusive pieces of content

The strategy at Viacom Media Networks is to develop services and apps that use social chatter and deepen the connection that people have to their favorite shows. This is why exclusive content is well sought after in the social TV sphere - viewers want content that is more unique than what can just be pulled up in an Internet search. Most requested are full length episodes (88 percent), new content “sneak peeks” (75 percent) and behind-the-scenes or highlight clips (71 percent each). Comments also increase connection with content - viewers like to read a different opinion on the storyline or maybe discover something they may have missed - but preferably from cast, crew, or people they know.

By Ivory King