Netflix, Amazon, and HBO are well known for their vast online presence, marketing strategies, and reputations for smart, original programming. In recent years, with such hit shows as Weeds, Shameless, Dexter, and Homeland, Showtime has become a frontrunner in the subscription television category. Following closely the same model as HBO, Showtime has emerged as a brand to be reckoned with. Much of its recent growth can be attributed to the addition of Brian Swarth, whose resume spans years of experience at Warner Bros., A&E, MTV, AMC, among others. Swarth's focus is on digital interaction, and getting users to connect on all platforms that the brand offers, such as mobile device apps and interactive communities for its subscribers.
"At the core of Social TV, is the notion of driving viewers to linear television so they can interact with a passionate community during or immediately following their favorite shows. We enable this type of audience engagement in a number of ways," says Swarth. Mainly, the SHO Social App for iPad. This allows viewers to interact on various communities, answer polls, and discuss episodes beyond just streaming content. Viewers can answer questions or pose topics while streaming episodes live. In fact, this app was so successful that it won a Webby Award in 2012 for "Integrated Mobile Experience."
Some skeptics still imply that social media, the whole concept around the notion of Social TV, detracts from the "traditional viewing experience." However, people use this media to show their excitement which can often optimize viewing pleasure. The novelty of Social TV is still a new one and Showtime is one of the few networks to pioneer its own app representative of its company brand around the notion of social interaction. Social TV also presents a way for networks to gain more direct and instant feedback from its most frequent users. It is still a new phenomenon but is one of the many ways that digital distributors of content are experimenting with connecting their audiences to one another and the network itself.