KIT digital unveiled its next generation social TV solution, the KIT Social Program Guide (KIT SPG), at NAB 2012 (booth SU8505). The KIT SPG integrates users' social networks with their service provider's electronic program guide, allowing viewers to enjoy a full range of social TV functions, as well as change the channel, through a single intuitive interface. The solution also boasts support for cloud-based DVR functionality, seamless VOD store integration, and multiple e-commerce models and ad serving for advanced content monetization.
The KIT SPG is designed to ultimately replace the traditional on-screen electronic program guide plus TV remote control experience, while also integrating the social and second screen functionality today's TV viewers demand. A fully functioning prototype of the KIT SPG will be unveiled at NAB 2012 and shown via an iPad application and Smart TV. Served through the KIT Video Platform backend, this white-label application can be easily customized to clients' design and programming needs and quickly rolled out to a range of additional first and second screen devices.
"The convergence of social media with non-linear, multiscreen viewing habits is driving the future of social TV, and of television viewing more broadly. Viewers want to find, watch and share their favorite shows without having to resort to a hodgepodge of disjointed apps and devices," said Alex Blum, Chief Operating Officer, KIT digital. "The KIT Social Program Guide will offer network operators and broadcasters the first complete, provider-based social TV solution."
The KIT SPG enables a variety of popular user behaviors including choosing shows based on social network recommendations, interacting with friends via Twitter, Facebook or proprietary social networks, and viewing additional information about content from sources like IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and Wikipedia.
"The demand for a solution like the KIT SPG is here now, and the competitive advantage gained by the service provider that introduces it first will be tremendous," Blum continued. "All signs point to unified, provider-controlled platforms that will roll up social TV functionality and overcome the biggest failures plaguing existing solutions. Apps on the market today each offer their own distinct, limited features, but none are robust or well-integrated enough to create this complete social TV experience."
According to a 2012 Penn Schoen Berland study commissioned by The Hollywood Reporter, 66% of users regularly multitask by surfing on a social network while watching TV, 76% have commented on the show they are watching and 56% say social networks play an "important" role in their entertainment-related decisions. These numbers will only grow as consumers buy more connected devices, projected in a 2011 report by IHS/Screen Digest to reach five per typical US household by 2014.
In addition to the functionality mentioned above, the KIT SPG offers a broad range of feature options, including, but not limited to: Social-Powered Recommendations: Viewers can use the KIT SPG to see which movies and shows their friends are watching or have recommended. They can also discover content via a unique social recommendation engine that offers up relevant content based on user input and recommendations from their social network, prior viewing habits and professional critics.
Additionally, the KIT SPG can push and pull social commentary from any third party social network, including Facebook, Twitter, and service provider-run networks. Rather than limiting users to one-way broadcasting of posts or comments as existing social TV apps do, the KIT SPG moves information in both directions, offering a much richer social experience.
Asynchronous Social Comment Review: While viewers want to be able to share comments in real-time, different viewing habits mean that friends aren't always watching content at the same time. The KIT SPG adapts to this behavior by storing comments and posting them as the viewer watches, avoiding "spoilers" and allowing users to enjoy the experience as if they were watching along with their friends.
Multiple ID Support: TV viewing is a communal experience, and TV sets are shared within households and families. Each individual television viewer within a household, however, typically has their own network of friends and colleagues, and need to connect to those different networks easily. The KIT SPG addresses this need by supporting multiple user accounts and simultaneous access by different users, allowing everyone to have a unique and personalized second screen experience while watching the same "first screen" together.
VOD Store Integration: Video on demand integration is a key feature of the KIT SPG, allowing users to share, review, interact, get recommendations and buy content from their provider's VOD store.
Forward-thinking providers can gain an even deeper competitive advantage by integrating popular OTT networks like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon with the KIT SPG.
KIT digital will feature ongoing demonstrations of the KIT Social Program Guide at booth SU8505 this week, along with demonstrations of the full spectrum of its video technology solutions. Accompanying this release is a video walkthrough of the KIT Social Program Guide and a video interview with Mediaset, Italy's largest commercial broadcaster and KIT digital's launch customer for Social TV.
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor
April 16, 2012