Is Social TV The Next Big Thing In India?

An article that focuses on why Social TV is not the next big thing for India. A discussion that happened in Adtech India.

adtech india
Adtech Delhi

Well! I have a different perspective. But before moving on to my perspective, let’s get an idea about Social TV. Social TV is where you can interact with the TV content either directly or through devices that support this. For example, lets imagine that Indian Idol 6 is being aired live and you as a viewer can vote for your favorite contestant as well as converse with your social circle  in real time. Then that’s Social TV for you.

Now coming to the present state, I really have no problem if Social TV is the next big thing in India and believe me I would be the first one to go bat for it. But then everything that is applicable in North America can’t be replicated in India. Perhaps, you are cursing me now for being an old school guy. But I think in a country where just 3% use social media, talking about social TV being the next big thing is a bit too high in the optimism scale!

One of the topic of discussion at Adtech India was also about Social TV as the next big thing, as reported by the Hindu Business Line. Shiv Singh, Head of Digital PepsiCo Beverages who was in the news for the last two days for his amazing thoughts in the keynote talk and emphasizing on the GRPE instead of GRP(Gross Rating Point) to brands where ‘E’ stands for engagement, also shared how Pepsico in US has used the ‘Sound Off’ platform that allowed the fans of the reality show ‘X Factor’ to connect and converse directly or though ancillary devices. Along with him Pete Blackshaw, Nestles’ Global Head of Digital Marketing and Social Media and Yahoo India’s Senior Director Marketing Nitin Mathur also shared the same sentiments of how Social TV is the next big thing as a mode of engagement. Nitin also cited how in US, Yahoo is using Social TV application ‘IntoNow’ and gaining traction. Having said that he was quite clear in stating that Social TV is too far from Indian context.

Why is it so?

In a country where majority of brands are yet to figure out how Social Media works, Social TV for now is a distant dream. I mean yes I would love to interact with the contestants of reality shows and ask what the fuss is all about but then neither the brands nor the fans are ready for such engagement. If you remember Tata Sky had come up with an app that will tell you what your friend is watching on television. It wasn’t a Social TV kind of thing but was trying to walk in the same direction. However, it failed to be appreciated.

Why so unsocial
Why so unsocial?

But is it too long a dream?

Indian marketers who have more or less now woken up in acknowledging digital and social media have also started realizing that both the mediums, Television and Internet have to be synched or at least an effort to do so has to be made. Considering India where Television has the largest reach, there have been some moves, which is in the direction of Social TV.

For example, the popular reality show Big Boss gives a chance to a caller to call up and ask a question to one of the housemates. I think converting it into the digital world would be the next step and I won’t be surprised if Colors thinks of doing the same.

Sony Pix last year launched it’s popular film review show Chicks Vs Flicks on Facebook because it felt that showing reviews on television after a week was really not cool. Star TV last year changed its entire look, from a family drama channel it became a youth channel. It is also true for MTV India and History TV Channel, which is going to show user, generated content pretty soon in a new TV series.

None of the given examples can be called Social TV completely but then we do see a trend where the television medium is transforming from its traditional thought process and trying to engage with it’s fans. So if Social TV ever has to happen, it will happen gradually.

I think it is the time for businesses to concentrate on how to be social rather than rushing on to the next big thing. Social TV can only happen when the business really adopts social media and thinks beyond Facebook and Twitter.

In India, when three out of four minutes spent on social networks are on Facebook, LinkedIn reaches one in eight online users, whereas one in 12 online users are on Twitter (as shared by Gian Fulgoni, Chairman of Comscore in his talk at Adtech India), businesses should be brainstorming on how to influence this mass, which is already waiting for them.

So at least for now, I don’t think Social TV is the next big thing in India but ‘Being Social’ definitely is!

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