Co-viewing TV

7 May

I recently cut my cable bill in half. Slowly but surely I’m moving towards a more DIY entertainment solution – streaming Netflix, utilizing XBOX and a digital media server. It’s all very exciting; researching new techniques and solutions to get the best home entertainment experience. One thing on the horizon in particular has caught my attention, co-viewing.

Co-viewing is simply a term for sharing in the experience of watching TV. At it’s core, it’s just a more modern version of talking on the phone to a friend while both of you watch the same TV show.

Talking on the phone while watching TV seems like a horrible idea to me, and I’ve never tried it. But I do often talk about movies and TV shows with my friends and coworkers the day after I watch something. Sometimes, if I find a show or movie particularly engaging, I’ll go online and read IMDB or other message boards to get more information.

I think that co-viewing is a step in the right direction. It isn’t as up-front as talking on the phone and it is a great way to get real-time commentary and supplemental information about whatever I am watching.

That is great from a viewer’s perspective, but co-viewing is also great from the networks perspective. It will become much easier to deliver personalized programming to consumers. Imagine having a choose your own adventure TV show or commercials customized to products you actually like. Networks would be able to get real-time feedback on their content and user could participate in more live contests (just think about what that means for ‘reality’ TV).

It’s also not that far off, MIT’s Technology Review has placed it on their top annual top 10 emerging technologies. MTV, among other networks, are already developing a social TV iPad application. As both the technology and the devices become commonplace I think out everyday TV experience will change.

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