Six iTV Themes from The Cable Show 2012 - Day Three

Jeffrey Bewkes Time Warner CEO on Harnessing Technology at Cable Show 2012

The final day’s action shifted from the exhibit floor to the General Session, featuring a great interview by Piers Morgan of Conan O’Brien, and a first-rate session on Social TV.

1. Conan O’Brien isn’t just funny, he knows social TV. Conan explained that a few years back when he decided to embrace change (we all know the story), he also decided to embrace social media as a strategy to engage his amazingly loyal core of fans. From a standing start, he and his team has created one of the most robust social TV strategies around.

Piers Morgan interviews Conan O'Brien at The Cable Show 2012

2. Sports wins, period. The General Session kicked off with sports jockeys from the big networks trumpeting the power of sports programming in terms of driving audience growth, live viewing and social TV. Well, they’re right – authentication challenges with Watch ESPN aside. NBA Commissioner Stern noted that this success has caused problems for stadium owners, who now need to better connect their attendees with the social TV experience by wiring their venues. See my blog from the recent Cynopsis Sports Summit for more on sports and interactive TV.

3. Climb aboard the TV Everywhere bus or get left behind. Next up were the business heavy hitters from Time Warner, News Corp, Cox and Netflix. As TW’s Bewkes underscored, TV Everywhere has been adapted faster than most other new technologies and definitely faster than he and his peers expected. The need to more quickly meet consumer expectations – historically not a strong suit of the cable industry – was a Cable Show theme all three days. See my video of Bewkes take on this below. In more unguarded, off-the-record moments, industry veterans expressed concern to me about just plain keeping up with the grinding pace of change.

4. Whoever answers the question “What do people really want while they are watching TV?” will build the next great social TV company. That deceptively simple point, made by GoMiso CEO Somrat Niyogi, pointed to the continuing search by Social TV companies for a truly successful viewer model. That’s a prerequisite for a successful business model, witness the fact that only one of the guys on the panel – SocialGuide’s Sean Casey – raised his hand when asked another question, who’s making money? Note that SocialGuide is an analytics service and does not directly engage viewers.

5. Live viewing will always drive more social TV because “viewers know that’s when the most people are listening” and they want to be heard. Another good lesson from the social TV panel, this one by Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of GetGlue. But he flipped that around when predicting that ACR technology will be leveraged to sync social comments made during live viewing to the same point in the same program when viewed on a time-shifted basis. Will the social commentary still resonate? Given the 3 hour shelf life of most tweets, I don’t think so.

6. Social TV => Social Ads => Social Commerce: The panelists all talked to the goal of engaging consumers in social TV conversations that also somehow incorporate brand messages. That’s potentially one of the key answers to becoming profitable. As with interactive TV ads in general, scale is required to attract brand interest. Hence the social TV “land grab”. From my perspective as a t-commerce expert, I’m most intrigued by when and how social TV and social ads evolve into social commerce.  That’s food for thought for you and for my plane ride back home.

I’ll continue to blog on companies and iTV leaders I interviewed at The Cable Show 2012 as well as post videos of iTV demos and panel highlights. Let me know what you think.

Additional Cable Show blogs:

Five iTV Themes from The Cable Show - Day One

Four iTV Themes from The Cable Show - Day Two

Will Keller, President, Interactive TV Commerce, is the go-to expert for t-commerce sales strategy and execution. For more iTV insights, subscribe to Inside the Screen or follow him @iTVcommerce.

           Subscribe toInside the Screen M