MIT Technology Review named Social TV as one of the 10 most important emerging technologies that will change the world. It supports communication and social interaction in the context of either watching TV or related to TV content, harnessing relationships we already have in social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with entertainment, like movies and TV. It also allows people to share their feelings about what they watch – while they watch it.
While broadcast networks like NBC are still testing real-time interactive systems, users have taken charge and are creating their own social TV experiences. Fans of specific TV shows from different timezones around the world are saving the latest episodes of their favorite shows on their personal video recorders (PVRs) and then arranging common viewing times with their friends to watch the shows whilst discussing the action together on Skype, Facebook or Twitter, reports the New York Times
Patrick Kennedy explains the impact of this trend
Social TV also enables social exchange, allowing friends and followers to read updates posted on social networks such as Twitter and draw from these to decide what programs they themselves might also enjoy. Think of it as a new kind of content recommendation that people will consider because it comes directly from people they know or whose taste they respect.
And let’s not forget the ability of social media to make TV viewing social again. It used to be that families and friends sat down in front of the TV set at the same time every week to enjoy a popular sitcom and then spend hours talking about the best scenes or what made them laugh most. The advent of the Internet, the rise of the DVR and the advance of connected devices – platforms that allow people to place shift their viewing and schedule their content consumption — have changed this routine forever.
Thus, Social TV puts the tools in our hands to contribute to the discussion around TV programs – any time it suits us. We can also connect with friends, followers and people we trust to find out what shows they watch or record as a means of discovering new content we’re sure to like.
Against this backdrop, it’s easy to imagine new business models that will deliver new levels of interaction across screens and across the ecosystem. We have already seen consumers move away from buying DVDs to renting movies instead (both in physical and digital forms). Riding this wave Netflix already provides its library to subscribers across a variety of devices including connected TVs, Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and iPads. With players including Hulu, Sling Media and Sony jumping on the bandwagon, it’s a given that 2011 will see multi-platform content services break on to the mainstream where people will harness Social TV to spread the word