Back to the Future: A look at the state of social TV in EMEA

3 years ago Social TV didn’t exist in Europe…it might easily have been imagined to be a comedy sketch where TVs grew legs and arms and started talking to each other over coffee (perhaps I’ve missed my comedy writing calling). It wouldn’t however, have been thought of as a new development that would shape and transition the broadcast industry into a new phase of creativity and innovation unlocking untapped commercial opportunities. 
Looking over the past year, it’s clear that Social TV is well and truly here to stay. We’ve seen tremendous successes over the last year for 3 key reasons:
  1. The fusion of creative and technical understanding is creating immersive Social TV viewer experiences.

  2. Broadcast empathy and strategy tailored to work within the existing programming structure constraints.

  3. Broadcasters are creating commercial opportunities around Social TV activations.

Here are some of the stand-out advances across Europe which lay the foundation of the Social TV market. Each example shows how social integrations can improve editorial quality, increase viewer payoff (which drives engagement) and add commercial value. 

EMEA Social TV 2014 moments  - (There really were a fair few!)

The BRIT Awards – Live Managed Social Voting

The BRIT Awards created the UK’s first-ever Live Social Vote to allow viewers to choose the winner of  “Best British Video” category. This unique engagement strategy drove viewership and strengthened brand connections. As the first  fully compliant managed live voting service in Europe, it set a benchmark for how live social voting should be undertaken to protect all parties’ interests.

Key Social TV Highlights 

  • 430k unique Tweets from a total of 4 million Twitter users
  • A single call-to-action created +400% increase in Tweets
  • 22 countries engaged in the social vote within a 90-minute voting window
  • Viewership peaked at 5 million for the show
  • Social engagement during the show doubled from 2013

4 Music  – Social TV Strategy 

4Music is one of the leading digital music TV stations in the UK. A simple yet powerful “Tug of War” visualisation was used on screen during “Tweet to Beat”, a weekly hour long show  which invited viewers to Tweet which artist video they would like played as a bonus at the end of the broadcast hour. The artist with the most Tweets was selected as the winner.
Based on initial success, this was grown into a larger strategy with an innovative Social TV show. “Last Fan Standing” harnessed the successful “Tug of War” component from “Tweet to Beat,” activating fan groups of large pop acts on social to Tweet and compete against each other. Fans received a huge on-screen payoff for their engagement when the presenter announced their winning video.

Key Social TV Highlights

Tweet to Beat
  • 136% increase in viewing slot average in week one of activation.
  • A total reach of 1.3 million viewers tuned into Tweet to Beat across the whole 15 week campaign period, 63% of which were from their target demographic. 
  • 117% increase in viewing amongst 16 - 34  target demographic in week one.
Last Fan Standing
  • Creative programme strategy built upon the success of 'Tweet To Beat’ 
  • 10 of the largest music fan groups tapped into on Twitter
  • Original editorial programme content created around Twitter vote using Spredfast technology

E4 - Ed Sheeran Commercial – Dynamic Broadcast Social Advertising

E4 created an innovative socially dynamic ad that aired during the commercial breaks of 'The Big Bang Theory.' Viewers voted, via Twitter, to select a song from Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘X’ that he played live, acoustically at the end of the show’s ad break.

Key Social TV Highlights

  • Two separate ads with a social call to action reached 1.42 million viewers and 2.01 million viewers respectively.
  • Ed Sheeran’s performance was viewed by nearly 5% of all UK TV audiences
  • @edsheeran received a direct and measurable uplift in mentions after the ads aired, showing how dynamic social ads can amplify conversation and provide commercial uplift 

ITV - #Goalface – 360˚ Sponsored Social Campaign

ITV created a fun and innovative social media activation, #Goalface, which encouraged fans to share their own #Goalface pictures and video via Twitter during the World Cup. Using Spredfast technology, ITV created a digital microsite to display #Goalface photos, and chose a #Goalface of the day, which drove regular engagement at 

Key Social TV highlights 

  • Over 50 million page impressions to ITV’s #Goalface Page
  • ITV’s Digital, Commercial, Sponsorship, Production & Marketing teams worked together to deliver a fully immersive and sponsored social TV experience. 
  • Sony became the official show sponsor of the campaign given the number of broadcast touchpoints the #goalface activation had
  • TV promos, digital and print advertising and TV Talent delivered a clear message to viewers- social was key to getting the most out of the World Cup 2014 experience at ITV – and they wanted viewers to actively participate.

Canal+ 'Le Grand Journal’  - Reactive Social Analytics  - Driving Editorial Content 

'Le Grand Journal’ is a live magazine show in France broadcast on Canal+, one of the largest commercial broadcasters in the country. The editorial team wanted to use social analytics to discover leading daily topics of conversations.  They used these insights to form a regular segment for discussion in the studio.

Key Social TV Highlights 

  • Used Spredfast Intelligence platform to source social data to create a unique recurring show feature of top trending stories around news topics.
  • Punctuated daily coverage with social content, inviting audiences to participate in news coverage.
  • First broadcaster in Europe to introduce socially sourced editorial content via social media analytics as a regular show feature. 

Many other EMEA broadcast & production companies are paving new ground in Social TV-  MTV, France Televisions, BT Sport, Channel 4, TF1, BBC, Shine, ZDF, Sky Deutschland, Eurosport, RTE – and we’re excited to work with all of them.
Now… lets look into the Social TV crystal ball (it does exist, honest!) and see what lies ahead in Social TV.

Larger expansion of social in Germany & Ireland with Nordics & Italy to follow shortly after

These markets, despite stark differences in social platform adoption and usage,, show early signs of a real creative and commercial desire to capitalise on social programming. ZDF and SkyDE are already leading this innovation. These regions will likely draw on the successes in France and the UK to shape their strategy effectively. 

Socially Enhanced International Format Sales Distribution

Hot off the press, this one! International programme format sales distribution is a highly competitive market. Smart Broadcasters will start to use social media to understand audiences in different locations and ascertain how fertile a market is for a certain programme genre.  This intelligence can aid the distribution and adoption of new formats into new markets. 

Dynamic ads as immersive 360˚ campaigns

Dynamic Social adverts were highly successful in 2014 both for viewership and brand awareness (see the Ed Sheeran example above.) This year, we will see how dynamic ads can shape wider marketing campaigns of brands and agencies. Will voting outcomes from on-screen ads step up a gear to influence product lines and brand strategies? – Watch this space! 

Facebook’s drive to own real-time conversations will lead to further prominence in the social TV space

With a growing desire to facilitate consumers’ real-time conversations, it seems inevitable that Facebook will make a stronger move into Social TV. Given their user base and broad demographic reach, Facebook stands to serve multiple audiences in different programme genres. 

Streamlined workflows across broadcast with Social

We’ve seen many production teams embrace the inclusion of social visualisations into their programming in 2014 such as Sky1’s Got To Dance, ITV’s This Morning, Daybreak & Lorraine & Canal+’s Nouvelle Star to name just a few.) This year will see wider teams utilising the data behind those activations to finesse the wider broadcast strategy.  Broadcasters will adopt social workflows to make the social content work even harder for both editorial and commercial gain.

More ambitious custom production with Social TV in general

All the big broadcast players are constantly looking to beat their competitors—social integration is no exception. More and more, we are seeing the desire to create social campaigns that offer a ‘springboard of envy’ to their competitors. More ambitious social TV projects, both on air and online, will further establish this market.

Big uptake in social data surfacing to drive, finesse and create broadcast content

We have already seen a huge surge in interest in using real-time and historical social data to drive content on air. 2015 will see a shift to this data being more integrated into the broadcast in innovative and highly visual ways. The lone Tweet on screen is no longer of interest to most, whilst social posts will continue to spur conversation and opinion. Creative evolution of social TV is essential to keep the viewer engaged. Social data and insight could be the key– even leading to new original programme formats – yes!
2014, we salute you! – 2015 has wide arms open for Social TV and the creative and commercial advances afoot. Bring it on!
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