It’s no secret that people are Tweeting while watching TV. Truth is that attention is divided across the four screens, TV, phone, tablet, and laptop. Yet how attention is focused and expressed is also complementary across each screen. The relationship between screens and the shared experiences that unite them is the true promise of social TV and the future of engagement overall. Television has for the most part always been social. In many homes, the main TV resides in the living room and it has served as an entertainment hub and conversation starter for decades. What’s different today is that the role of the living room expands to cell towers and the cloud, as conversations traverse networks and apps connecting screens and people along the way. But what we think is a second screen experience is actually not what we may think.

People and their experiences are at the center of social TV. The television, as such, becomes the second screen feeding people with reasons to express themselves, spark engagement, and define who they are and what they think with every Tweet, status update, and selfie.

The promise of a more social TV experience has less to do with broadcast hashtags and embedded Tweets in programming.  The link between people and screens requires architecture. Creating apps, offering badges, encouraging tagged conversations, etc., is fine, but what defines the success of programming is not just access to corollary information, it’s the engagement triggers that become part of the program itself.

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