Aug 9, 2011

What Is Social TV?

Social TV is threatening to become everyone's favorite new buzzword. The name itself invokes both old and new media channels and manages to sound both revolutionary and consumer friendly.

But what exactly is Social TV? What does it look like and how do we use it?

That's the issue: no one really knows yet. And if they tell you they do, they're lying.

Social TV is an amorphous thing that's very much in the early stages of being defined. There are hundreds of different ways the hows, wheres and whys may play out; dozens of options we can't even begin to predict yet.

We can start with a very broad definition: the ability to use digital technology to interact with another person around a television show. But how and when and where that interaction takes place are still very much unknowns.

While there are many models (and more on the way) for what a social television experience may look like, there are just as many questions as to what will feel right. Everyone seems to agree that the ultimate goal is to create an experience that equals or surpasses the real life experience of watching TV with other people and the social inteactions around that.

That's a pretty broad target, one that means different things to different people, with a whole lot of extra variables thrown in.

Over the next week or two I'll be taking a look at all these different variables and how Social TV solutions might address them.

Everything from the different ways we watch different types of programming-- a college football game versus a crime drama-- to the effects of asynchronous viewing patterns in an on-demand world, to who we want to share our experience with, to the use of commercial breaks as social intermissions. to the degree which sharing a viewing experience changes our reaction to it. (Think of watching a comedy in a crowded theater versus alone at home.)

I'm hoping to get a lot of feedback-- there are no right answers-- so don't be shy.


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