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Social TV: How “social” is helping the idiot box evolve into a smart box? (Part I)

Posted in Social context, media and advertising, TV and Digital Entertainment by Manas Ganguly on September 7, 2011

The idiot box is on its journey to becoming smart and as it happens there is ample push from Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple. Thereby Television is all set to become social. TV was always content heavy- however content discovery, connect to friends around that content, personal network based likes and recommendations is now making it increasingly social as well. Social program guides on TV are the future of content based television business. TV set top boxes are beginning to provide people the ability to interact with others on their TV screens when watching their favorite programs. In ways more than one Social TVs will be the game changers for Televisions with radical implications for the future of television viewing

Facebook is exploring tie-ups with TV providers to help their customers find relevant programming by leveraging their social graph. The social TV program guide enables real time feeds on what friends are watching and share [their] viewing experiences which get[s] people to become recruiters for TV shows. In other words, Facebook would provide a real-time feed to broadcasters based on their friends’ TV show likes and check ins. That changes the TV-viewing experience.

1. Facebook users have “Liked” various TV shows over 1.65 billion times. This statistic gives a good feeler of how TV content and programs are pseudo social in some sense already. Facebook now intends to take this social into being more actively social with real time updates and live streams
2. In July 2011, cable giant Comcast unveiled its next-generation Xfinity TV interface that includes Facebook integration. One of the features is called “Friend Trends,” which shows the content most popular among the viewer’s Facebook friends on Hulu, Netflix, the Web, and TV.
3. Comcast even built the Like button into its new cable experience, so viewers can Like a show straight from their remote control.

In addition to enabling television and social networking to be available via a real time interface, the set top box might allow people to preconfigure access to different social networks based upon channels on the television or certain time ranges. The ability to associate a specific channel with specific social network walls, contacts, or chat interfaces is interesting. It gives the user a unique experience of watching the game along with a dozen or so friends, each from the comfort of their homes.

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