How Many Social-TV Apps Can Consumers Be Expected to Use?

TVGuide.com and USA Network Team Up; Is This the Start of the Great Social-TV Consolidation?

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One of the recurring topics of conversation at Ad Age 's Social Engagement/Social TV Conference last month was the proliferation of stand-alone second-screen apps and destinations, with every network, various established media players and plenty of start-ups wanting in on the hot social-TV sector. Everybody kept asking: How soon before we start to see consolidation?

Well, it's starting. Today, TVGuide.com and USA Network are formally announcing that USA's Character Chatter platform, which until now has had its exclusive home on usanetwork.com and USA's family of mobile/social apps and sites, will now also live on TVGuide.com. Chatter is essentially a social-TV portal that allows fans of USA shows like "Suits" and "Burn Notice" to find and join the social-media conversation surrounding those shows (users can sign on with their Twitter or Facebook logins and easily cross-post); on TVGuide.com, it will be co-branded.

Jesse Redniss
Jesse Redniss

The deal was done by Christy Tanner, exec VP-general manager, TVGuide.com, and Jesse Redniss, senior VP-digital, USA Network.

"USA will have eight shows active across our lineup on TV this summer," Mr. Redniss told Age Age, "with each show having its own community of loyal viewers who engage with social media. With TVGuide.com's massive audience and new platform initiatives like Watchlists, we saw an opportunity to provide an integrated touch point around the USA show pages on TVGuide.com, enabling their community of USA show fans to have a deeper and richer experience without leaving their site."

Christy Tanner
Christy Tanner

"Given the proliferation of different apps and the different platforms on which they live, at some point there has to be a shake-out, because for the user it's not a sustainable model," Ms. Tanner said. "And some of the experiences are really subpar, frankly." Joining forces with USA Network was a no-brainer, she added, not only because of the network's dominance in both ratings and social TV -- it's been the No. 1 cable network for six years running, and Character Chatter has drawn nearly 1 million unique visitors since its launch 18 months ago -- but because "they had the technology skills to do this quickly, and so did we."

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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