Has TV Just Gone Social?

12th Aug, 2010

Yesterday Channel 5 in the UK announced it was to embed its catch up player into Facebook. It’s a significant move for the TV channel and also for Facebook in its battle to drive up content. Content is something Facebook lacks, especially when compared to the Google owned Youtube, and we all know just how important content is when it comes to social media.

First, The TV Industry.

So just why is it important for the TV industry? It’s not the first time television has been embedded into Facebook. You can watch BBC’s Mock The Week being streamed live via Facebook (but only if your based in the UK). The obvious advantage of players over broadcast TV mostly lie on the side of the viewer – they don’t have to be in front of the TV at a certain time and fewer ad breaks, if any. On the side of the broadcaster, a catch up player might mean an individual less likely to look for that programme through illegal streaming or download sites.

But this relationship with Facebook could open the way for much more targeted advertising on the part of the broadcaster. If I was to watch a show like Mad Men, it’s unlikely I’ll see the same ads as say Home and Away. But with a Facebook log in the broadcaster could play certain ads, based on who is actually watching, not based on who they assume to be watching. Much like the way Facebook ads on profiles work. There is a flaw in this of course, what if multiple people are watching? But thats the flaw with current TV advertising. At least with one log in you know the advertising is getting at least one person.

Further development could see interactive advertising using the Facebook platform over the duration of ad breaks. So instead of a viewer just sitting there (or leaving the room) a branded game or interactive feature could keep them there. This would prove much more valuable to advertisers and take TV advertising into a whole new interactive area, away from its current one directional format.

For Facebook it Means Content

Facebook lacks content. I posted last week that Youtube could be a potential future threat to Facebook due to the amount of content the site has. Youtube would need some work, but it would be in a far superior position to take on Facebook than Google’s new product Google Me. In the last 18 months Youtube has not only been broadcasting your content, but its been buying the rights to Cricket, broadcasting live concerts, interviews, wrestling and recently announced a fund for original programming.  Youtube is in competition with every TV channel on the planet. Facebook gives the TV station the upper hand by having access to incredibly detailed information on its users.

Youtube needs this original content to position itself as a global broadcaster and to increase its advertising revenues. However without access to Facebooks demographic information, and without viewers having to log in (so such information can be collected), Youtube advertising will not be as precisely targeted as a Facebook embedded player could potentially be.

It’s a bold move on the part of Channel 5, one which many online and offline broadcasters, and content creators, will be keeping a close eye on.