Social TV @ SXSW Interactive: 2011 vs. 2012 How Far Have We Come?

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I’ve just spent that last few hours going through the countless SXSW Interactive sessions, adding those that piqued my interest to my schedule. As you’ll see from mine, I’m very interested in the topic of Social TV. I’m going to attempt to check out about eight sessions alone on the topic. You’ll also notice I’m sort of a sci-fi geek… and attending Joss Whedon’s session is pretty much a dream come true for me!! I’m also a big fan of everyoneisgay.com and got a sneak peek from Kristin Russo on what attendees can expect from their panel:

“Our panel at SXSW will focus primarily on how social media platforms can be used together as a tool to provide resources and outreach to underserved communities – in our case to LGBTQ youth, specifically. As is always the case with Dannielle and I, we will aim to keep our audience laughing while at the same time sharing our personal story of organizational growth and our philosophy on using social media as a tool for social action!”

So now for the topic at hand, “Social TV: 2011 vs. 2012 How Far Have We Come?” As an avid TV watcher and Account Director on a number of our media clients at Text 100, I’ve been following the Social TV landscape quite closely for a few years now. I walked away from the 2011 SXSW Interactive conference reporting that having a social component is critical for the success of any entertainment program. I also heard from various media execs at the event that there’s a direct correlation between social media and ratings. Digital VP of NBC Universal/USA Network Jesse Redniss, reported that when fans engage on mobile while episodes air there are higher live ratings in key demos, and that engaging viewers in two-screen viewing led Oxygen to increase its brand metrics for advertisers.

So does that still ring true this year? I’d say yes and yes, but how has it evolved even further?

For one, I’d say Social TV apps have really grown over the last year in both awareness and sophistication. Major players like Shazam – who just recently disclosed acquiring over 180 million users – have brought Social TV to the limelight announcing the first-ever Shazamable Super Bowl, with more than 1/3 of its advertisers, the game itself and halftime show driving record-breaking tags for the company. The networks themselves have also forged ahead in the space, including both MTV and VH1 releasing their own co-viewing apps, with WatchWith and Co-Star respectively.

Twitter has also further embraced its social role in TV, recently experimenting with live social voting teaming up with the creators of X Factor to launch direct message-enabled voting via the platform during the program.

So what’s in store for 2012’s SXSW? I’m looking forward to hearing from industry leaders sitting on the panel Integrating Brands into Social Television, which will discuss how networks are bringing advertisers even further into the social fold. And of course I’ll be sitting front and center for my colleague Tara O’Donnell’s panel, @TVEngagement: Does Social Media Drive TV Ratings?. If I wasn’t too busy gawking over Joss Whedon I’d surely be at this Bravo panel, Top Chef: How Transmedia is Changing TV, but alas the Buffy fan in me just won out here. I’ll just have to steal notes from Tara who will be attending that one.

If you’re heading out to Austin, hit me up on Twitter @Jcasano if you want to catch up, meet up or geek out together. For those staying back, keep tuned in to our SXSW Hub for more of my ramblings.