In a recent episode of HBO’s The Newsroom Charlie Skinner (played by Sam Watson) forces Don Keefer (Thomas Sadoski) to put tweets on the air during a broadcast. As breaking news ensues, Skinner decides to tell them to yank it, essentially since something more important is happening. Is writer Aaron Sorkin skeptical of tweets on air or is he trying to send a message to ACN that they need to hire Nevern.no and Vizrt to light up the screen more effectively with social?
Never.no and Vizrt (the TV graphics company) partnered last year on social. As the social web expands content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more are essential for broadcasters to tell stories. There are still many challenges for broadcasters to overcome and master including curating, visualizing and more. With constant feedback and the urge for TV broadcasters to include that feedback technology has never been more of an important piece. Never.no CEO Lars Lauritzsen and Vizrt CTO Petter Ole Jakobsen provided Lost Remote with an exclusive in-depth interview on what broadcasters need to know about social TV and how to fight challenges like keeping a viewer glued to the screen.
LR: What are the biggest challenges broadcasters had overcome when trying to integrate social media in their broadcasts?
Lars Lauritzsen: User generated content and interaction has never been more important for driving ratings. There is so much content being generated which makes it an overwhelming task for broadcasters – 1. how to organize and manage all this content, and more importantly, 2. how to find relevant information and get it on air. Social media content, including messages, photos and videos related to a show, now give the audience the ability to give their opinion to the broadcast topic. Back in the days people would send letters or call the station to send feedback to the show. Today, all of this is happening in real-time without the limitations of delays. The volume of content and viewer interaction is reaching unprecedented numbers and can be unmanageable without the right tools. For broadcasters, the ability to efficiently harvest and filter out non-relevant information is extremely important.
Petter Ole Jakobsen: Viewer habits are rapidly changing, especially in the last few years as the world has become more mobile – people are carrying tablets, laptop and smartphones. Their lives have become tied to these devices in many cases have become more important outlets for media than the television. Keeping a viewer glued to a single screen uninterrupted is becoming a challenge as broadcasters look for different ways to maintain or build viewership. However, the use of these devices does actually make it easier for viewers to interact with a broadcaster and it allows them to find new revenue sources – if done correctly. When done right it encourages viewers to go back to the “main screen” which is the goal. This is true not only for live entertainment programming like competitions and award shows but also for news and sports. In today’s connected world, social media outlets often break the news even before broadcasters. Knowing what is going on in real-time when big events happen help newscasts cover the story from many different angles and sometimes is the only way to cover a story.
One of the biggest challenges has been taking all this content on-air. On one hand you have a lot of data coming from many places and in the other you have an entire broadcast infrastructure that needs to have access to this data. A further consideration is the fact that you now have multiple distribution channels (TV, web, mobile) and you have to sync it all without disturbing or changing workflows.
LR: How are Vizrt and never.no helping broadcasters overcome these challenges?
Lauritzsen: never.no has a dynamic framework which is flexible enough to overcome the challenges broadcasters face. We are constantly monitoring the broadcast industry to understand the needs and wants of broadcasters. To help broadcasters obtain content relevant to their programming, we’ve created the ‘What’s Trending’ wordcloud toolkit to discover what information is relevant to their viewers and the broadcast. We’re getting better at dissecting data, both quantity and quality. Our framework enables broadcasters to easily engage viewers and get their feedback via realtime polls which tabulate the results regardless of the source. never.no’s framework also makes the integration of companion apps a simple task, which is not only a way to communicate and interact with viewers but also gives broadcasters new revenue outlets.
Ole Jakobsen: Vizrt products have always focused on workflow, efficiency, quality and real-time content distribution. When it came to a social media solution all this was first priority. But just as important was being able to present all of this content in unique and visually compelling ways. The Vizrt Social TV Solution is extremely flexible, expandable and simple to use, enabling broadcasters of all sizes to have access to social media content and publish to air with minimal effort or training, it also lets them keep existing workflows, easily share assets among the organization and sync multiple distribution channels by centralizing the management of all this content in one single place. Additionally it allows them to be creative and execute their broadcast in different formats with visually stunning and dynamic presentations.
LR: How are broadcasters innovating and being creative when it comes to presenting all this content?
Ole Jakobsen: Social media, as a form of media, is still evolving. This makes it a challenging but exciting type of media to work with. The ability to present audiences all this user-generated content on television has been executed in different ways, starting from the standard full-screen animations, lower thirds and ticker scrolls. The combination of “Vizrt’s SocialTV Solution” and never.no´s “TV.Mobile.Social.1Framework” has allowed broadcasters to get creative and think outside the box, achieving visually stunning presentations. Anything from visualizing volume and trends in the form of 3D Word Clouds and all sort of 3D real-time charts and meters, combining social media with create 3D animated maps that include Geo-located social media content and combining all this user generated content into their weather forecast presentations. The use of virtual studios and augmented reality allowing anchors to be “immersed in the graphics” and interactive or touchscreen applications giving presenters the ability to interact with all this content in real-time, these are just a few examples. Presentations included not only messages coming from across all networks but also live votes. All the available tools that are part of our offerings have also enabled broadcasters to take all this 3D real time visualizations and animations and automatically posting them on social medias in order to inform viewers of upcoming programming, breaking news or alert them of weather related events such as tornados or hurricanes by posting not only just simple text but also pictures and videos.
LR: Where do you see the future of social TV and multiplatform distribution?
Lauritzsen: TV viewing can be an active experience, giving social media a huge role in TV. When we talk about social media, it is more than tweets and mentions. We are seeing emerging formats for all types of shows and currently they allow viewers to both engage and discover additional content about their favorite shows. We can see the importance by taking for example Televisa’s TagDF workshop, “Televisa’s Technology”, where the focus was the importance of social media engagement and second screen interaction. With never.no´s interactive “TV.Mobile.Social.1Framework” technology and the tools that are part of Vizrt Social TV solution, Televisa was able to easily manage and push all of this content to multiple screens simultaneously. In the future, broadcasters will need to find ways of engaging viewers not only during the broadcast but also during commercial breaks in order to still attract advertisers. The importance of multiscreen distribution will continue to increase. This is where Social TV advertising comes in and we are seeing the potential for multiplatform branding engagement and long tail personalized communication between businesses and consumers.
Ole Jakobsen: As the idea of second screen continues to evolve, multiplatform distribution has become a major part of SocialTV. This is much more than just tweets and mentions and being able to stream videos and live television on all sorts of devices. It is rapidly becoming part of the TV station’s content delivery strategy, We cannot forget about the “big screen” it is still the main screen and is not going to disappear anytime soon. In the near future some formats will let viewers decide the content of the channel and instead of creating content in order to drive ratings, ratings will be deciding the content of the channel in real-time. We started to see this happening in TV formats like award shows. Take for example Univision’s “Premios Juventud” (Youth Awards) where social media was incorporated in ways never seen before. Viewers choose the winners through social media in real-time. Throughout the entire show visualization of social media was a big part of it. All social media interactions during the show where powered by never.no and visualized and sent to air using Vizrt technology. In the very near future I’m sure will probably also start to happen for other formats like music and movie channels for example. Twitter’s #Music is a big indication this is where we are heading but is not just limited to just music and movies, some news channels are already starting to rely on social media just as much news wires.
LR: What are never.no and Vizrt preparing for in the future?
Lauritzsen: In addition to our continued innovations in Social TV advertising, we are continuously enhancing the types of social content we harvest, while creating new and innovative Social TV formats. New features are always being added to our platform so stay tuned and keep your TV´s on to see even more SoMe projects from never.no and Vizrt!
Ole Jakobsen: Vizrt will leverage the massive amounts of data provided by companies like never.no and create brand new visualization tools that integrate social media intelligence to our systems in order to streamline even further the workflow of broadcasters. When it comes to accessing and presenting user generated content and interactions there will be only one logical place for a broadcaster to go and that is with Vizrt.