MySpace has just launched ClipSync chat for its original program Married On MySpace. The tool allows watchers to choose to join social viewing rooms, which run linear versions of each episode. If you tune in after other people have started, you miss what they’ve already seen, but that way it’s all synchronized so you can experience the content together. Through ClipSync (click on “Watch and Share”) you can chat, mark up the video with overlays, invite other friends to join, and vote on aspects of the show (it’s a crowdsourced, heavily product-integrated wedding planning series).
This is the first ClipSync implementation of a multipart deal with Fox Interactive. The social stuff will probably be most useful during Married on MySpace‘s
live finale next week — the combination of a live show, interactive voting, and a social network is pretty killer — if you like the subject matter, that is! Update: The finale is actually August 6, and it won’t be live. ClipSync would not tell us how it is being paid, but it seems likely it’s ad revenue split.
ClipSync has similar functionality available on CBS.com and TV.com for their television programming. I had actually profiled ClipSync in depth for a recent longer report about the state of social TV that I wrote for GigaOM Pro, our new subscription research service (only $79 per year, you should check it out!). Here’s some more information about ClipSync from that piece, which also has case studies on Integra5′s text-to-TV chat service and Facebook’s integration of existing social relationships into video experiences:
According to ClipSync’s internal testing, when given the option of watching a program socially or alone, 80 percent of viewers prefer the company of other users, even if they don’t want to interact with them. The most participatory content seems to be daytime shows — aka soap operas — accounting for 20 percent of users and 51 percent of total in-session interaction. Dramatic plot twist overload is only part of it; a big factor in soap opera interactivity is that there’s daily fresh content, said ClipSync CEO Itzik Cohen. When CBS launched Clipsync on archival Star Trek episodes, fan interest was minimal.
ClipSync has actually been around for three years now, but spent its initial time as a destination viewing site, where visitors could use similar functionality to watch YouTube, Google Video and Metacafe videos. After that didn’t get much traction, the company turned to white-labeling its service. Now it either charges a monthly per-user license fee or splits ad revenue.
ClipSync is under pressure to show it can add value for its network partners, especially since competitors haven’t fared so well. Lycos provided a similar “viewing party” service for some ABC Family programming last year, but it has since been discontinued. We haven’t been able to get a hold of anyone to tell us what went wrong. Lycos still offers its own branded version of the service, Lycos Cinema, where users can pay to rent movies and watch them with friends in a virtual theater setting.