Social TV Takes Off

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As social check-ins and chat are now driving TV tune-in and engagement, the long-anticipated disintermediation of the entertainment-to-home ecosystem has arrived.

new study by Frank N. Magid Associates, reveals that one of every five consumers are using video game consoles, Blu-ray players or other devices to bring the Web into their living rooms on their television screens. The seachange has led to a flood of social TV partnerships in what Ad Age calls the “Exploding Social-TV Ecosystem.”

“Connected TVs will bring the Internet to the large screen, in contrast to how the smartphone has brought the Internet to the small screen. Consumers will be able to watch and browse what they want, when they want, on a big screen through connected TVs,” commented Mike Vorhaus, President of Magid Advisors, a unit of Frank N. Magid Associates, to the Los Angeles Times.

The research, part of the Magid Media Futures 2012 study, found that:[more]

“21% of consumers connect to the internet via their TVs in comparison to 16% last year. They use the connected TV for web browsing, viewing videos through subscription services such as Netflix, online gaming and visiting Facebook, in addition to other Web services and content. Game consoles (e.g. Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) are the primary means of connecting to the Internet via TV, followed by smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, and over the top devices (e.g. Roku, Apple TV, Google TV).”

Magid predicts that the number of in-home connected TVs could jump 50% annually over the next few years spurring sales of “smart TVs” with built-in technology for home networks, including those already available from Samsung, Sony and LG.

“Over the next 18 months, we are going to be at the end of the early adopter phase of connected televisions as the mainstreaming of the technology happens,” said Magid analyst Andrew Hare to the LA Times.

In anticipation of that changing landscape, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TeleFutura, Telemundo and Univision will make ratings information available for entertainment programs streaming on websites they control from Dec. 1, 2012, according to a pledge signed by the networks titled, “Empowering Parents in the Digital Age.”

“The precise means of making the information available will be determined by each company, but the TV ratings will appear at the beginning of full length video programs and also in the online programming descriptions,” the networks said in a statement.

Currently, TV networks issue voluntary notices at the beginning of programs advising on sexual language and violence, and appropriateness for all viewers, those over 14, or 17 and older, but these advisories have not applied to streamed content on the Web, or sites such as Netflix and Hulu.

The TV ratings system was established in the mid-1990’s by the industry, modeled on the movie industry’s, in part as a reaction to Congressional complaints about depictions of violence.

According to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, 61% of U.S. teens watch television programs on a laptop, videogame player or a device other than a TV set. The so called cord-cutting has U.S. cable operators worried about their pay TV subscription business, sparking a Justice Department inquiry into whether Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable companies have been unfairly “throttling” the bandwidth available to stream the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

TV Watch, a parents lobby group, welcomes the new Internet content ratings and Executive Director Jim Dyke said in a statement they will give parents “an expanded set of tools to help determine what their children watch based on their own taste, style and age.”

“Many television viewers pay little attention to the ratings, which typically appear in the upper left corner of the screen at the beginning of shows. But the monitoring board’s research has led it to believe that parents use the ratings to determine what shows are appropriate for their children to watch. That same research also indicated that many children were now watching shows on screens other than televisions.”

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