Wednesday, May 8, 2013

TV + Social Media = The New Water Cooler

Remember when screen-in-screen was introduced as a feature on televisions? It seemed like sports fan heaven- channel surfing could be reduced or even eliminated by being able to watch two games at once. But, for many people the excitement of watching two games at once gave way to the reality that it was more difficult to be fully engaged in either screen as they both competed for our attention.

Fast forward to the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. We now have the next generation of split screen sport consumption (actually dual screen). The experience of watching live sporting events on TV is enhanced by using social media to interact with others who are also following the event. Sports is one of the most social of TV viewing experiences; the same product that is viewed live by thousands can be viewed in living rooms or in sports bars. Person-to-person "water cooler" talk about sports has been transformed into real-time conversations on social media as fans interact with fellow supporters of their favorite team and partake in banter with opposing fans.

Estimates of social media activity occurring while watching television ranges from one-third to one-half of TV viewers taking to Facebook, Twitter, or other sites. Some concern exists that consumption of sporting events via social media will overtake time spent watching the event on television. However, unlike screen-in-screen TV viewing that unintentionally divides attention and interest, the new "split screen" of sports consumption has the potential to make TV viewing more engaging.

One example of how a sports property has brought digital social experiences to game telecasts is the NBA. As the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs began, the NBA sought to engage TV viewers in an online social experience through a check-in and loyalty program powered by Viggle. Viewers can chat with other fans and are offered an incentive to stay tuned in the form of points that can be redeemed for rewards such as Best Buy and Starbucks gift cards. The Viggle campaign is a good move by the NBA as it leverages interest that already exists for playoff games and gives fans an outlet to discuss games with friends in real time. Physical proximity of friends is no longer a limitation on interaction.

The social pull of chatting about games coupled with rewards based on amount of time spent watching games are ways the NBA can keep fans engaged at a critical time of the year. Playoffs are exciting, but as they progress it means that more teams are no longer playing. While engaging fans of teams still in the playoffs is a an easier task, maintaining interest among casual NBA fans or fans of teams out of the playoffs can be aided by linking TV and social media consumption. The desire to gather around the water cooler to discuss big games like the NBA Playoffs has intensified as fans have the connectivity to talk as a game unfolds. But, what has changed most is the water cooler is no longer limited to a physical gathering point. In the future, sports properties should establish a priority of exploring ways to combine TV and social media to create digital water cooler experiences.

Direct Marketing News- "NBA Goes Second Screen in the Second Round"