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?