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The Short (but Packed) Social TV Timeline

A Look at How Networks, Startups Have Catered to Social-Media Obsessed Viewers

By Published on . 2

While social TV isn't entirely new (remember 2000, when AOL tried to bring the chat room to TV with its set-top box?) viewers appear to be onboard now. As Ad Age sees it, the social TV we know -- in which social networks and mobile apps let live-TV viewers gossip about their favorite shows in real time -- was born five years ago, when Apple was spurring the U.S. smartphone market and Twitter was finding its footing. Though social TV has some distance to travel, here's a look at its history and milestones.

MARCH 2007
ABCFamily.com hosts an "online viewing party" for the season finale of "Wildfire" so that viewers could watch together and chat via the web.

JUNE 2007
The first iPhone goes on sale and ignites smartphone fever in the U.S. (More than 100 million Americans now own smartphones, many of which end up snuggled up with TV viewers.)

MTV begins working with Twitter, a microblogging service that 's less than a year old and has fewer than 1 million users. Comedian @azizansari live-tweeted the MTV Movie Awards: "I was asked to twitter. I'm just on the red carpet. Jason farted near Jay -Z."

2008

Presidential election cycle: Cable network Current TV was the first to put tweets on-air during the show: "Hack the Debate."

JANUARY 2009
CNN live-streams President Barack Obama's inauguration online alongside a feed of Facebook comments.

SEPTEMBER 2009
Fox airs an episode of social-TV pioneer "Glee" with tweets running along the bottom of the screen. Some viewers complain ticker covers what they're trying to watch.

APRIL 2010
Apple releases the iPad and sells 300,000 on the first day. (Gartner Research forecasts that more than 118 million tablets will be sold worldwide this year.)

SEPTEMBER 2010
ABC launches an iPad app for "My Generation" that "listens" to content on screen and serves up corresponding poll questions and trivia. It is among the first network-produced "co-viewing apps" designed to be digital companions to shows. ABC has since launched similar apps for "Grey 's Anatomy" and the Oscars.

FEBRUARY 2011
Audi runs the first Twitter hashtag (#ProgressIs) in a Super Bowl commercial. The game spawns 1.8 million public comments on Facebook and Twitter, according to social-data tracker Bluefin Labs.

APRIL 2011
GetGlue, a mobile app that asks users to publish to social networks what they're watching on TV, reaches 1 million users after less than a year on the market.

AUGUST 2011
Beyonce reveals her baby bump during the MTV Video Music Awards, and the news explodes on social sites. During the show, #VMA was the most-mentioned term on Twitter, followed by "Beyonce," according to Bluefin.

SEPTEMBER 2011
Social-TV startup Miso partners with DirecTV to synchronize its mobile-app content with what's on TV. Later, Miso also links with AT&T U-verse.

NOVEMBER 2011
Simon Cowell's "X Factor" premieres in America and introduces Twitter voting.

JANUARY 2012
Robert F.X. Sillerman's latest endeavor, Function(x), launches the Viggle app, a "loyalty program for TV."

FEBRUARY 2012
During the Super Bowl, viewers produce 12,233 tweets a second, contributing to more than 12.2 million public Twitter and Facebook comments, according to Bluefin. (In 2008, the Big Game scored 27 tweets a second.) Of the comments this year, 1.2 million concern commercials. Eight Super Bowl commercials included a hashtag, including #makeitplatinum for Bud Light and #mushymush for Hulu. H&M's David Beckham Bodywear spot garners the largest comment volume.

The Grammy Awards on CBS generates the most social-media comments to date for a TV event -- 13 million -- vs. 3.4 million during the Oscars and 880,000 for the State of the Union address.

Election Season: Fox News integrates #answer and #dodge hashtags into the South Carolina GOP debate broadcast. Mitt Romney's explanation for not releasing his tax records generates the evening's biggest #dodge reaction.

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