A growing portion of TV audiences are active social media users and many of them are using laptops, smartphones and tablets while watching TV. So to capitalize on that, 10 groups with stations in markets covering 76 million U.S. households announced a long-term deal with ConnecTV, a free, real-time social network built for TV viewers. ConnecTV allows viewers to interact with other fans watching the same program, while providing a related content and promotional opportunities that are synchronized to programs being viewed.
The groups include Barrington Broadcasting Group as well as the nine broadcast groups that make up the Pearl Group (Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General, Meredith, Post-Newsweek and Raycom Media.)
Combined, these TV groups own 201 stations made up of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW and WB affiliates in 45 of the nation’s top 50 markets. The Pearl Group was set up to coordinate the launch of mobile DTV services and now encompasses social media and the use of tablets, smartphones and netbooks/laptops to access video. Pearl plans to expand the affiliate base of participating local broadcasters for ConnecTV.
All broadcast partners plan to integrate and synchronize their programming within ConnecTV and promote the new service on-air and online. As part of the commercial agreement, the broadcasters will have local ad inventory appear within ConnecTV to drive program promotions and deliver campaigns through their local ad sales teams. In addition, a number of the broadcasters have made an undisclosed investment in ConnecTV.
“From its very beginning, television has always been a big part of the daily American discourse. In this digital era, much of this dialogue now takes place on social media platforms. As local broadcasters, we love that people are talking about our shows,” said Alan Frank, President and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations and on behalf of the Pearl Group. “We looked long and hard for a partner that could create a compelling environment that would encourage, enhance and monetize that dialogue, even during live programs including news coverage or sporting events – and we found it at ConnecTV.”
Frank tells RBR-TVBR: “There will be a lot of opportunities for creative and impactful advertising on ConnecTV, especially since the ads will be complimentary to the viewing experience. There will be some display ads but also program promotions based upon user interests, synched companion ads to the broadcast ads plus stations working w/ConnecTV for unique branding opportunities. As local broadcasters, we see ConnecTV as an extension of what we do and who we are, an extension of our platforms and our brands.”
ConnecTV’s Stacy Jolna also tells us there is an alotted percentage of inventory on the site for local stations, “it’s a similar model to cable companies alloting local avails to the local systems.”
For the past two years, ConnecTV has been developing its core technology. Available now in an “invitation only” sneak preview, ConnecTV will be launching to the public in early 2012. ConnecTV was founded by iTV vets Ian Aaron, former President of Gemstar-TV Guide and CEO of TVN Entertainment; Alan Moskowitz, former senior engineer at MobiTV and member of the founding engineering team at TiVo; and Stacy Jolna, former GM of TV Guide OnDemand (TV Guide SPOT) and Chief Programming Officer and founding executive team member of TiVo.
RBR-TVBR observation: It should be interesting to see how the ad packages will be delivered amongst competing stations in some of the Pearl/ConnecTV markets. Perhaps national ad networks will be formed from the alliance.