Twitter’s Bluefin Buy: Overdue Foray into Social TV

Watching TV is now a social activity.  Not in the sense that you invite your neighbors to watch your favorite TV series with you. (Remember those days, Friends?) Rather, people are now using social media platforms like Twitter to share their thoughts, vent and converse with others about, say the upcoming episode of The Walking Dead.

This is the reason why Twitter’s acquisition of Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics company, makes so much sense.

No numbers have been reported, but Business Insider is putting the acquisition price between $50 and $100 million, as Bluefin has raised $20.5 million to date.

Still not sure about TV and social media’s connection?

Twitter Rules TVs

According to Bluefin, the recently concluded Super Bowl tallied 30.6 million social media comments across Twitter, public Facebook data and GetGlue check-ins), 2.5 times more than last year’s social activity of 12.2 million.

But besides Twitter’s Super Bowl win, the microblogging platform has been dubbed as the new TV guide by Adage.  You see, a lot of programs use Twitter to announce what time their show will air, or if it’s on break.  Twitter’s also a great place to post teasers, giving viewers a taste of what to expect in upcoming episodes.

And the Bluefin acquisition isn’t Twitter’s first foray into social TV.  In December, Nielsen and Twitter announced a partnership, the “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” to deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter, and will serve to complement Nielsen’s existing TV ratings, giving TV networks and advertisers the real-time metrics required to understand TV audience social activity.  The new reports will be available this fall.

Advertising magnet


Mobile devices are considered second screens, and now Twitter is looking to leverage this dual-device interaction for advertising purposes.  Instead of people using mobile devices to search the web for program or actor information, they use Twitter.  Advertisers are aware this trend and are increasingly using Twitter to reach to their target audiences.

Twitter is deemed the most important social network by advertisers, which was clear during the Super Bowl where 50 percent of ads shown mentioned Twitter, while only eight percent mentioned Facebook, and zilch for Google+.

Here with more analysis on Twitter’s latest buy is Senior Managing Editor Kristen Nicole, who appeared on this morning’s NewsDesk show with Kristin Feledy.

The need for open APIs


The Bluefin acquisition also indicates the growing need for open APIs, as more companies will want access to Twitter’s metrics and target audiences.    At the moment, there are only a few free tools available from broadcasters and cable providers for TV content, such as a TV guide.  With Twitter making its mark in social TV, this could spark the interest in making more open APIs so developers can further enhance the viewing and social experience.

“Twitter’s acquisition of Bluefin speaks to the growing need for open APIs around television content, from program guides to viewing behavior,” says SiliconANGLE Senior Managing Editor Kristen Nicole.  “Many TV-related APIs are commercial, and costly.  With Twitter showing its interest in social TV, its open platform could promote more open APIs in this field.”

What about the competition?


Twitter isn’t the only social network to make its mark in social TV.  eMarketer’s September 2012 survey showed that Facebook has greatly influenced viewers in the past.  According to the survey, the majority of viewers  (46 percent) across different age brackets started watching a new show because of the opinions shared on Facebook.

Microsoft, one of Facebook’s investors, already infiltrated the social TV scene when it launched the Xbox SmartGlass, which brings a multi-screen entertainment experience.  The Xbox SmartGlass allows users to control the Xbox entertainment system using their phone or tablet as well as get more information regarding the movie or TV show they are watching without having to launch a different app.

As for Google, they might have been the first to realize the importance of integrating social and TV experience.  In 2010, Twitter launched its app for Google TV.  It brought the whole Twitter experience to your TV screen so viewers need not miss a tweet when they are watching TV.  Unfortunately, Google has yet to integrate their own social network, Google+ to Google TV.  Which is weird, since Google+ has cool features like Hangouts.  If Google incorporated Google+ and Google TV, it could bring a whole new social TV experience.  Just imagine, watching the same show with your friends on Google TV via Hangout, complete with live commentary about the program.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot?