In what will be an important test case in the viability of social media and second screen applications, ConnecTV and 10 broadcast groups are launching its social media platform on June 12 that will offer their viewers a wide variety of social media tools, exclusive content, information and other features that are designed to enhance the viewing of their programming. The launch represents the largest social TV effort by local stations.
"Television programming is driving the social media conversation, but those conversations continue to be fragmented across myriad platforms and provide little local context," said Alan Frank, president and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations, on behalf of Pearl, in a statement. "We see ConnecTV as a way for our communities to come together in a single, standardized digital extension of our broadcast platforms, and engage in dialogue around the information and entertainment most relevant to them."
The effort is launching initially in top 40 markets today, with a total of 85 local ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CW and MyNetworkTV stations integrated into the ConnecTV social TV experience. The companies have plans to expand the effort eventually to 215 stations in the U.S.
"Local engagement is at the heart of all social media, from Twitter to Facebook to Groupon," said ConnecTV co-founder Ian Aaron in a statement. "ConnecTV is the only social TV network with a true investment in the local viewing experience and an unparalleled strategic partnership with the leading media companies in America."
ConnecTV partners for today's launch include a consortium of nine leading U.S. television broadcast groups know as Pearl. These companies include: Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.
Overall, the Pearl broadcast groups run more than 200 local ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW and MyNetworkTV affiliate stations in 45 of the top 50 markets reaching 76 million households.
As part of their ConnecTV partnership, the companies announced that "Pearl will expand and coordinate the affiliate base of participating local broadcasters, integrate local content, deliver on-air, on-screen and on-line promotions and sell complementary second screen advertising that synchronizes with the broadcast."
ConnecTV is available as a free download for the iPad from the Apple App Store, or for any PC browser at www.connectv.com. Versions for the iPhone and Android smartphone and tablets are expected to become available in the next 45 days.