Various broadcasters have done “chat around content” applications: the Apprentice and The X-Factor being two examples. These are expensive to run, because the second the content is on bbc.co.uk or itv.com then you face the wrath of compliance.
This is not a compliance rant, broadcasters need compliance, and at its best it helps programme makers get the most out of their rushes. It is an overhead though, and given we’ve yet to really see how we can “monetize” those people talking about shows, is it worth paying that penalty for highly vocal, but very small minority?
Enter the hashtag: Now shows have been transmitting with cues of suggested hashtags for many years. Now really only used on Twitter, but you could argue that a tag is really a platform neutral way to flag your content.
You’re not hosting the discussion, which means you’re not paying for moderation, and you’re not liable for the compliance. The broadcaster is saying “you guys can go and huddle over there, but it’s not really anything to do with us, understood?”
This has implications for second-screening because I think it means that broadcasters are going to be loathed to actually build wide-scale chat-around-content style applications: their name being associated with it just causes too much expectation. Can you imagine installing the “BBC Socialiser” app and getting the “THIS APPLICATION MAY CONTAIN BAD THINGS” pop-up from the iTunes store? It’s not what people would expect from the BBC.
Most people are still lazy, lean-back linear content consumers – the TV is a familiar friend at the end of the work-day who doesn’t expect much response, but over time people will want nicer ways to contextualise their tweets about content.
And so to the meaningless predictions…
- Much as they will be loathed to let go, Broadcasters will realise that they can’t justify self-providing these services, and they will give more data away about schedules and items on-air in a form that can be better used to tag content by 3rd-party services
- Services like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will provide ways to embed this metadata in posts, so the a unique identifier of a show could be associated with a post, in a similar way to geo-tagging appeared.
The combination of those two things mean that you could create an app that was specialised twitter client. I don’t want a new social network for telly, but a client that embeds the magical codes to make everything more findable feels like a workable compromise.