Television broadcasters around the world are apparently deeply divided over their strategy for Social TV applications. Regardless, most seem to agree on one significant point -- they desperately need a meaningful game plan now, while the window of opportunity is still open.
According to the findings from the latest market study by Futurescape, a key trend in the first half of 2012 is that some broadcasters are moving quickly to counteract the perceived influence and power that Facebook and Twitter are having over their TV audiences.
The savvy broadcasters are now investing in Social TV companies and launching their own Social TV platforms. Meanwhile, others are following a diametrically opposed strategy of partnering with the dominant social networks -- in an attempt to facilitate viewer interaction.
This is most evident for the kinds of major news and sports programming that viewers discuss on second screen devices -- such as smartphones and tablets -- during the live TV broadcasts. This activity includes high-profile events like the upcoming Olympic Games and the U.S. elections in November.
Broadcasters are increasingly integrating Social TV within their own digital platforms, Web sites and second screen apps. They claim that curating conversations about their shows gives fans more focused and enjoyable discussions than on the Twitter or Facebook platform.
However, it clearly also enables some broadcasters to proactively counteract the social network's current dominance in Social TV. This is likely the direction that some of the broadcaster late-adopters will eventually take in the marketplace.
In July, NBC launched Chatline for its Dateline news magazine show. This app works on PCs, mobile phones and media tablets, and brings together viewers via Facebook, Twitter, GetGlue and the Dateline Web site.
Other television broadcaster Social TV platforms include CBS Connect, HBO Connect, Oxygen Connect and USA Network Character Chatter.
Many broadcasters have extensively integrated Twitter into their Social TV activity, typically by showing hashtags as part of a show’s transmission to encourage viewer participation.
CNN and the BBC, however, have both recently announced major deals with Facebook. The social network has developed a new and more aggressive strategy of moving into the Social TV space and closing Social TV deals with broadcasters.
NBC stands out as a broadcaster with a dual strategy -- it's developing its own platform, with Chatline, and working with TV interaction company Shazam to give viewers second screen information for its Olympics coverage.
Yet, concurrently, it also has a Facebook deal for the Olympics which includes broadcasting a "Talk Meter" of Facebook users’ reactions to the London 2012 games. In summary, this is a key space to watch in the coming weeks and months, as the industry shake-out starts to materialize.