An inside look at social TV in Sweden

By Natan Edelsburg 

The social TV world is now expanding around the world. Lost Remote is headed to Broadcast Asia taking place in Singapore next week, but before a look at that region here’s an inside look at a social TV startup based in Sweden. Like.TV is a second screen platform currently gaining traction in Sweden and Norway. We interviewed Jacob Leander-Olsson a product manager at  MTG Digital Media, the digital arm of the MTG broadcast and entertainment company who runs Like.TV about social TV in the region.

Lost Remote: What’s social TV like in Sweden? How is it different from the US?
Jacob Leander-Olsson: Sweden is definitely an exciting place to work and among the most advanced countries in terms of smart phone usage, broadband penetration and testing new concepts, which is proven by companies such as Spotify, iZettle, Wrapp, Klarna, Tictail and many more. 79% of people between the age 12-35 have a smart phone and more than half of all 3 year olds have started using the internet.
In terms of social TV we were slightly behind the developments in U.S. at first, but really taking off now and during the past year we have seen some tremendeous growth. Every day there are 2.2m Swedes [out of a population of 9m] that interact with a second screen while watching televison. During the first quarter this year there were 500 000 active Twitter accounts and over 1.6m tweets related to television. Similar numbers and trend in Denmark and Norway as well.
LR: What is
JLO: It is a second screen service currently available in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Covers the entire television market, including our own and competitors’ channels. Starts off with a traditional TV-guide with what is on TV right now and upcoming programming seven days ahead. Once in a program, the user gets a tailored experience depending on what he or she is watching. Basic program information, latest news, Twitter feed, content from relevant Facebook groups, polls and similar information. For sport content we also match it with live sport data to give line-ups, minute by minute references, league table and statistics.
LR: Do you work with TV networks in Sweden? Plans to launch globally?
JLO: We are part of Modern Times Group, which is an international media company and broadcaster based in Stockholm, Sweden and operates in 36 countries Europe and Africa. This puts us in a very good position since we have both Free-TV (FTA, ad-funded) and Pay-TV (Cable subs, sport and movie channels) channels along with distribution (satellite provider Viasat) and streaming service Viaplay. So initially we are working with our own channels and content, but have received positive response from other channels and definitely open to that in the future.
LR: How did you get the domain name and how much did it cost?
JLO: We can’t comment on the actual cost, but we were pleased with both the price and the name. was one of the first names that came up during our brainstorming session for the name, but we actually marked it as unrealistic at first. Sebastian in the team made an attempt despite this and to our surprise got it at a realistic price.
LR: What’s your background and why did you start the company?
JLO: I started at Modern Times Group three years ago as a management trainee. After the trainee program I joined our online department and headed up our catch-up/AVOD platform. It was during this time that we started to see more and more people discuss the TVcontent on Twitter, started monitoring the social buzz on a regular basis and soon realized the opportunities and started planning
LR: What are the most popular shows in Sweden?
JLO: Music contest called Melodifestivalen (domestic qualifiers for European event) and the Eurovision Song Contest are undoubtedly the most popular shows. The shows strangely have a very special connection with the Swedish TV audience and similar status as your Super Bowl with a 85% share of viewing during the final. The contest have had over 700 000 social mentions during the spring and no other programming comes close to that.
In general it is quite similar to the U.S. with big events, political debates and sports driving the social discussion. We publish weekly reports and last week was one of the best on record with the finals in Eurovision Song Contest and Ice Hockey World Championships, which Sweden won by the way!
LR: Anything else?
JLO: It is an exciting time for social TV and we all look forward to further developments on the second screen and with All channels in Sweden – including our own, public television SVT and TV4 – are doing great things on the second screen and it will for sure be an interesting time ahead.
We are also just now launching a responsive HTML5 version that will work for on all devices and allow us to expand our potential user base a lot.