Media: Double Standards - Will social networking change how we use TV?

Five's Chris Shaw and MySpace's Anthony Lukom discuss how their joint venture is leading the way in the convergence between TV and social networks.

CHRIS SHAW - SENIOR PROGRAMME CONTROLLER, FIVE

- Are social networking sites the new media channels?

Not yet, they aren't. Essentially, social networking sites are mass narrowcasts between individuals and groups of individuals, but, eventually, they could combine the best of old-style broadcasting and all the unique qualities of social networking.

- What does the deal between five and MySpace mean for advertisers?

Well, it helps advertisers understand that five news is a programme that will actively target younger demographics and is serious about reaching new audiences for news.

- Have you worked out how to monetise such content?

Yes, of course. Our venture with MySpace ensures both parties benefit from the ad revenue that is generated by the traffic to the sites, and we also plan to include pre-roll advertising further down the line. We are also benefiting from the increased traffic to our recently launched five news portal - the number of page views has increased by 120 per cent year on year.

- Can established TV brands (such as five) build their own young communities online?

Yes, but with difficulty - hence our relationship with established social network sites such as MySpace.

- Do broadcasters risk losing control of content once it's online?

We do anyway, whether we place it online or our viewers place it online in order to share it with others. By providing tailor-made bulletins, we ensure we keep editorial control of the original content. What people do with it after that we can't control.

- Is the industry heading for complete convergence of platforms?

That is the conventional wisdom, though I think that people will still continue to watch visual and audio broadcast content on TV and radios for a few years yet. Speaking from personal experience, I am watching more and more content on my computer or recorded on my Sky+.

- What are the benefits of a convergence for broadcasters and for social networking sites?

For broadcasters, the benefit is creating close relationships with our audience. Watching a news programme on a regular basis becomes more like subscribing to a favourite magazine or even joining a club. It increases loyalty, discourages promiscuity and could lead to other editorial and commercial opportunities as a result. It allows us to improve our attempts to encourage viewer participation through initiatives such as the daily Your News item, where viewers post their own TV news reports. The link-up with MySpace has already increased the amount of Your News offerings we get. Finally, it helps us reach new and rarer audiences - especially among the young.

- What does your profile say about you?

I had quite a portly profile last time I checked, but I cycle a hundred miles a week and swim another two or three. I don't smoke, drink or take recreational drugs, but I am completely compulsive about live football and am a Chelsea season-ticket holder. Online, I have a MySpace page and Facebook profile with around a hundred friends, but, to be honest, I am a very rare user these days. I prefer interacting with telephone calls, which are the new handwritten note.

ANTHONY LUKOM - UK COUNTRY MANAGER, MYSPACE

- Are social networking sites the new media channels?

Social networking sites such as MySpace can work alongside and complement existing media channels. Our recent deal with five news to broadcast bespoke daily bulletins really highlights our changing media habits. By distributing content on social networks, traditional media can connect with both existing and new audiences in ways not previously possible.

- What does the deal between five and MySpace mean for advertisers?

It means that its ads are displayed alongside exclusive content, developed with a target 16- to 34-year-old audience in mind. The news bulletins have already been viewed more than 100,000 times in three weeks.

- Have you worked out how to monetise such content?

We are continuing to evolve our monetisation model to create a successful balance of revenue and relevancy for users. Video advertising online is an emerging model that we are actively working to promote.

- Can established TV brands (such as five) build their own young communities online?

Yes. A great example is MySpace's global partnership with BBC Worldwide. This means that the best BBC video content is now available online globally via MySpaceTV. The profile has more than 20,000 friends and counting.

- Do broadcasters risk losing control of content once it's online?

No. Broadcasters have far more control if they actively seek to put their content online; they are able to control how it is presented and monitor feedback. Those who don't engage with the digital world miss the many opportunities that multiplatform distribution provides.

- Is the industry heading for complete convergence of platforms?

Social networks have allowed brands in all industries to change the way they communicate, increasing the number of ways that connections can be made. Platforms can be complementary.

- What are the benefits of a convergence for broadcasters and for social networking sites?

The opportunity to broadcast news to a younger demographic is hard to replicate elsewhere. Five has really embraced the user-generated content side of social networking by using MySpace as part of its news-gathering process for Your News. It has immediate feedback on news items uploaded to MySpace because users are able to rate clips and upload comments. Broadcasters that work with social networks can reach audiences that were traditionally missed.

- What does your profile say about you?

My MySpace profile is a bit like my flat. It has pictures on the walls, and photos of my friends, family and holidays in my albums. My favourite CDs are scattered on the floor. The books on my shelf and the DVDs in the cupboard show my interests. Sometimes, I spend time on my own reading magazines and newspapers and discovering new trends or writing letters and e-mails. Other times, I invite friends to join me. It's my offline life, online.

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