Social TV Forum – The Morning Roundup

I didn’t get to go to the SocialTV Forum this morning, but thanks to Brightcove I’ve been able to watch the morning unfold from the comfort of my desk by watching their live stream. And have to say I think this was the better option, because if I’d have paid money to go to this event I’d be fuming by now.

We started the day (or I started watching the stream) with Richard Griffiths from Eircom and IPTV provider in Ireland – who havent launched their platform yet, and havent done any socialTV yet…..and this was the keynote!! Richard is a well-known character in the industry and in my role at Playboy we’ve been supportive of Eircom and will continue to be. He had some good views on socialTV – but they were all wrong to be honest. His premise was that socialTV would/should be owned by the platforms. That the platforms would provide the interactivity to maintain control of the services. I think this is wrong for one main reason:

1) Connected TV means that SocialTV will be able to come direct from a TV bypassing the platform. ConnectedTV will not have the middleware limitations, and will not be the walled garden approach Richard was discussing. Why limit yourself to a platform when you can develop for a TV and reach a wider audience without the editorial/commercial interference of the platforms?

The innovation in this sphere will be driven by the companies that work direct with the CE manufactures and build utility based services that transend individual platforms. SocialTV that can only be social if you’re using the same platform/CE device – isn’t really that social!

Next up was Dan Cryan from Screen Digest – these guys are experts at what they know and Dan was certainly a good presenter. But Screen Digest is an analysis company – they show stats, graphs and trends. But socialTV is so new and undefined at the moment that it was all quite irrelevant. Already you could pick up the vibe that people wanted to see and touch some innovation, not hear about the percentage growth in online video over the last 3 years!

The first panel was when alarm bells started ringing for me – we had 3 sales pitches (and Ooyala don’t think Football is a big driver for TV apparently!!) – but then there was Tom McDonnell from Monerosa – someone who has actually built and run socialTV applications! The panel was dull with everyone trying to have their say and sell their company – shame, Tom should have had a solus speaking slot!!

Tom Weiss was next up from TV Genius a comany I only came across yesterday, but one that I am now keen to meet. They’re trying to make this a reality – he talked sense, he was interesting, he had real expertise….he was only on for about 2 minutes though. He was really just there to introduce a client of his Phil Walders from FetchTV who started with those awful words “let me tell you a little bit about Fetch…” He then moved on to try to sell us that an advanced IP based EPG was socialTV…..hmmm.

Eric Elia was next up from Brightcove (must disclose I’m a client of his and having breakfast with him tomorrow) – Brightcove are a great company, but did they fit into this stream? They provide a great service around which you can build social elements – but whilst Eric tried to show something different/new, it did end up feeling like a sales pitch from an exhibitor (a theme from the whole conference).

The final session was a panel of production companies – and Triona Campbell started by telling us how many ‘hits’ one of her show got……I nearly turned the stream of there and then! We’re in 2010, at a social media conference and you have a panelist boasting about how many ‘hits’ something has??? She needs to head down to the Engagement seminar next week and learn where the media industry is in 2010! The panel were interesting – but not for this conference. If the conference had been about Online TV Productions – great. At the end the chair asked them to sum up what they wanted to see from socialTV in the coming year – their answers were:

– Triona Campbell: We need to have product placement

– Robert Marsh: Brands need to take online content more seriously

– Dick Rempt: Industry needs to open up and work together more with brands.

Well – that will drive the SocialTV industry forward!!

And that was the end of the morning session – there were some interesting people in there, but they were not given time to shine (perhaps they were not exhibitors!).

One question comes out before I head back for the next stream – perhaps we havent yet really defined what SocialTV is yet?

8 thoughts on “Social TV Forum – The Morning Roundup

  1. Fabulous and poignant. Too many sales pitches at conferences blighting dissemination of relevant info and opinion.

    On a debating note I do not believe a connected TV will be able to circumvent the platform…why? Because ISPs are mainly Telcos who already offer a managed network IPTV service. Conflict of business pops up. EU legislation will also eventually kick-in that will require licenses for broadcasting content on-line lobbying is already under way in Brussels.

    A connected TV with only a browser which is a presentation engine allowing only a single applications at a time and has intrinsic weaknesses…the first denial of service will impact browser based services they will come.

    Editorial integrity is also an issue that is constantly raised when social media on TV is discussed ( Well in some conferences) openly amongst stakeholders.

    TVangelist (wordpress blog)

    • Anthony – agree with everything you say. I think when I speak about CE platforms circumventing platforms I’m talking more about the established pay services from cable/sat providers. I was more thinking that a CE device with connectedTV functionality, married with a DTT tuner would provide a very solid alternative to cable/sat providers. If you could get Freesat with a connectedTV function allowing Lovefilm movie streaming you’d have a very strong proposition. Of course the missing element is sport!

      Editorial integrity is a huge issue as well – the NDS demo was fantastic, but will the BBC want so much other contextual content over laid on their content, or even allow it? Also coming from the adult industry I know that some of my less corporate competitors would take seconds before they were trying to hijack metadata search to ensure whatever the context of the program that it was linking to adult content. Big problem – be interesting to see how the channel brands manage this going forward.

  2. Hi Agit8or,

    Don’t know who you are; good to see you write about the panel I was part of. Thanks for your observations.

    I can understand you’re disappointed – I do agree some key-issues were not addressed;
    i.e. exactly what Social TV is… I do have some opinions about them (quite strong ones actually), so if you would like to start a conversation about it, feel free to contact me.

    One thing I found interesting myself was that Triona and Rob come from a more traditional TV / film production side, thus seeing TV as the center. I come from social media moving into TV space. I think I stressed the importance for production companies like Fremantle to see themselves as brands aswell that need to use social media to engage the public and make them feel part of the story, give them influence; i.e. in the pre-selection for Idols, X-factor etc instead of only during the period of broadcasts; which they don’t do right now. Or is this not Social TV in your book?

    Your observation of my comment about the industry opening up to each other is correct, but you put no context to it. What I said was Social TV can only become a reality if we as an industry (broadcasters, production companies, social media / TV solution providers like my company) work together to unlock the budgets of brands. I think that will be the only way to further innovate social tv – somebody has to pay the bill… it’s got to be viable business too.

    Btw – why didn’t you ask a question to Rob, Triona and myself when Simon Spanswick invited the audience (including you) to do so?

    Looking forward to a conversation with you! I like your spiciness.

    I’d also like to invite you to contact me through Linkedin to make yourself known.

    Cheers, Dick Rempt

    • Dirk – if you check on the About page there is info on me and a link through to both my twitter and linkedin accounts, no point being spicy if you’re not prepared to be known. I’ll track you down on LinkedIn now though and hook up with you. I apologise if I took your words out of context – part of the problem with watching a stream in the office is that you can sometimes miss context. I did think however that you’re approach was the most modern – I’m planning on doing some work on defining SocialTV and will certainly be in contact so that I can get your opinion.

  3. Hi;
    Sorry – I missed the fact you were watching the sessions through live stream; no wonder you couldn’t ask a question…..
    Dick Rempt

  4. Rich

    I’m sorry that you found many of the sessions at the Social TV conference disappointing, I’d be happy to meet with you and hear your views on social media and online video. Not that many people know about Ooyala, so you’ll have to forgive me giving my contribution some context by setting out what the company does and for whom. It wasn’t intended to be a pitch, but rather to share our view on where online video and social media are working together. And yes we have just announced new deep linking sharing features, relevant to that session you’d agree. On sports – my point was that football apart, many sports get limited coverage on TV. Online video, particularly for live events, is giving sports fans the opportunity to share and enjoy coverage that would otherwise never make it to air. Sport represents an excellent example of social media and online video working together. More generally, social media provides the opportunity for fans of specific programmes and genres to gather together and share their passion. It isn’t just about big, peak time event television, but about more specific niche or affinity programmes, whether this is accessed a broadcast via TV or on-demand, or live online.

    You’re very welcome to get in touch. I’d be happy to set up a call with one of the Ooyala team and you can compare notes.

    Best regards


  5. Richard,

    Thanks for the great feedback. To be honest I had a bit of a challenge putting together a presentation for this one because of the diverse audience and the focus of the event. But I wondered how it would come off.

    I actually took your feedback to heart and tuned my preso at the Guardian Changing Media Summit today to be more about the trends and best practices for the video industry as a whole, with a little less Brightcove show n’ tell.

    The audience responded much better than on Tuesday, and I’m grateful for your feedback.

    I’m seeing some tweeting and blogging that validates the approach. In particular my Ten Tips for Building an Online Video Business is starting to make the rounds on sites like Wadd’s PR Blog –

    Good stuff.


    • Eric – was a real shame the Guardian event was not streamed, but glad that my feedback helped. I know Stuart was trying to organise for us to hook up for breakfast whilst you were over, but things consipred against us. Are you at IPTVWF or MIPTV – still keen to learn more about what you guys are up to? Thanks for the link to Wadds blog, going to grab a coffee and have a read!

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