Thoughts on Tech: Can Network TV Survive?

social tvThe calendar year of the Nielsen TV ratings is over, and the results are in... Network TV takes a plunge! As Vulture reported earlier today on the Big 5 networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and CW), it was surprising to see that 30 returning shows lost at least a fifth of their audience, and seven shows lost over a third of their viewers under 50.  What is causing this quick decline in ratings and how can this trend be turned around?With streaming services like Netflix and Hulu experiencing huge growth, new devices making streaming much easier, and the low cost of subscription, this industry is taking a big hit on the traditional model.  The subscription numbers have grown dramatically, just in the last few months.  Hulu just surpassed 4 million paid users, up 1 million since the end of 2012.  Netflix has done even better, adding 2 million subscriptions in quarter 1 of 2013, and being measured as the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 so far this year.  On another front, Microsoft just announced the Xbox One, their new console due out later this fall.  This console will allow the user to switch between TV and streaming apps as seamlessly as changing the channel on your cable.  These services allow you to watch your favorite shows soon after they air, as well as allowing new original shows to live solely online.So how do traditional TV networks combat this exploding streaming industry? The answer is simple: create a shared experience that you can only get while watching live.  This is where social TV comes in.  The social TV experience is fairly new, and major television properties are just starting to figure it out.  Ever since TV was born, people have gathered to watch, cheer, and discuss television with their peers; with the recent advances in technology, this occurs mostly over social networking platforms.  With shows like The Voice and Dancing With The Stars encouraging live social media interaction right there on your screen, the space has definitely evolved quickly. Live TV events like The Grammys and The Super Bowl have pushed the envelope the furthest, integrating apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Shazaam to perfection.  Now it's time to take it a step further.  As Wired explains, "As the social TV movement continues to evolve, it’s only logical to assume that viewers will want more from their social TV services. They’ll want unique content and the opportunity to build more intimate connections with content creators. They’ll look for rewards with real value, such as free merchandise".  Only time will tell how the experience of interacting with others will draw viewers to live TV over streaming it in the future.How do you interact with live TV on social media? Can your smartphone/tablet/laptop save the future of network television?  Let us know on Facebook and Twitter as we move further into the social TV future!–Kyle (Twitter|Instagram)