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Will Comcast's See It Change Social TV as We Know it?

Will Comcast's See It Change Social TV as We Know it?

Earlier this week, Comcast announced its "See It" button, a tool that will allow viewers to access live TV from within a Tweet. Though Comcast announced Twitter as its first partner, the media behemoth has positioned this technology as something that could work across a variety of platforms--creating a never-before-seen link between mobile devices and television content. On the surface, it sounds incredibly cool. Being the industry watchers that we are, we wanted to dig into this development further and understand the true implications of the news. So, we turned to our favorite information source on all things digital media: our own Albert Lai, CTO for media and broadcast solutions at Brightcove.

Here's Albert's take:

  • Comcast is uniquely positioned to make this move; as mentioned in the article linked to above, the company can also redirect users to its owned content sites, i.e., NBC's website, since Comcast is serving as both the MVPD and the broadcaster. There's really no other U.S. media company in a similar situation. As viewing requires the user to enter their cable (Comcast) username and password as part of the TV Everywhere (TVE) login process, Comcast is essentially just extending the current Twitter Card functionality (with Twitter branding it with a different button).
  • The news would be more interesting if Comcast subscribers avoided needing to enter their cable (Comcast) username and password. In the long-term, perhaps this will lead to building greater awareness of TVE and/or simplify the TVE login process--e.g., using your Twitter credentials and linking multiple log-ins to your Pay TV account. This would benefit all of the TVE ecosystem.
  • Will watching a full length video on the Twitter app decrease Twitter usage? It seems slightly unnatural for the user to be logged in to Twitter (especially on a smartphone form factor), while watching programming and concurrently Tweeting. The UX (may) limit consumers' ability to easily Tweet.
  • One of the major sticking points may be from advertisers. On page 61 of Twitter's S-1 filing, they define a Monthly Active User as "Twitter users who logged in and accessed Twitter through our website, mobile website, desktop or mobile applications, SMS or registered third-party applications or websites [emphasis added] in the 30-day period ending on the date of measurement." Consequently, not only does Twitter have to answer the question of how many MAUs view their own advertising, they need to address how many users may be excluded from viewing See It via third-party apps and Web experiences.
  • Not only are the See It advertisers concerned about the addressable audience, content programmers (Comcast) will need to decide whether they are willing to cede the video consumption experience to a third-party. For many years, Facebook has supported inline playback of video (with ads and analytics). The question many publishers faced was whether they were willing to risk viewers accepting--and eventually expecting--a video experience (devoid of the associated content, display advertising, etc. that would typically be associated with their O&O website or app) driven by a third-party. Thus far, the use of Facebook as a consumption destination for third-party premium content has been limited at best.

What's your view? Does See It revolutionize social TV? Will it offer new monetization opportunities for content providers? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.