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Summary:

ABC announced today it would offer online text commentary tracks for full episodes of some of its programs. The first commentary is for the new V sci-fi remake with participation from executive producers Scott Peters and Steve Pearlman. It’s due to hit ABC.com Saturday, a delayed […]

abccomEpisodeCommentaryVexpertsABC announced today it would offer online text commentary tracks for full episodes of some of its programs. The first commentary is for the new V sci-fi remake with participation from executive producers Scott Peters and Steve Pearlman. It’s due to hit ABC.com Saturday, a delayed release after the first episode of the show aired on TV last night. Further, ABC is enabling fans to create their own commentary tracks using the same tools.

The use of the term “commentary tracks” might be a little misleading given the audio overlay tracks we’ve all come to expect on DVDs, with inside info from actors, producers, directors and the like. ABC.com’s new feature consists of text comments only.

Though I’ve only seen a screenshot, this looks to be a very cool variation on the concept of Social TV. Users log in to their Facebook accounts remotely and watch an episode. They make comments that are time-stamped and run alongside the ABC video player. Fans can do the same thing, starting a new and separate episode commentary track. Each track is released to the public but only the author’s Facebook friends can modify it with additional comments.

ABC said it expects to soon roll out commentary track functionality for other series that use its full episode player powered by Move Networks. Featured commenters will include writers, directors, costume designers and other experts from each show.

While ABC had in the past locked up its full episodes to viewers on its own site, this season it’s also hosting them on Hulu. However, this new feature is exactly the right way to entice people come to your destination: give them a social experience and extra content they can’t get anywhere else. The web offers an awesome opportunity to bring DVD extra-type content to life. It would be great to see ABC run these commentaries live, a la Fox’s “Tweet-peats,” in which that network overlaid comments from stars and fans on top of a rerun on TV. Text comments crowding out the screen may not have been quite right for the living room, but it could be fantastic on the PC.

Other similar projects include ClipSync, View2Gether, Vidrollr, tvChatter, Cliqset, MediaFriends and the many other implementations of Facebook (and now Twitter) alongside video and on TV screens. Today, implementations of Facebook Connect are leading the pack, but there’s a lot of work yet to be done to make social TV a great experience.

By the way, we’re talking about Social TV next week at NewTeeVee Live with execs from Facebook and CNN. Come join us in San Francisco!

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  1. This is very similar to the Social TV work SplashCast was doing earlier this year (video time based commenting). See here: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/04/29/splashcast-figures-out-that-to-make-online-tv-social-it-is-all-about-the-chatter/

    1. Thanks Mike. Hopefully with places like ABC taking on the banner this stuff will see some traction. I wonder how quickly users will acclimate to this stuff — they are not necessarily primed to participate on big network sites.

      1. Thanks, Liz. We saw a significant increase in user engagement with these social features (users spent 50% more time watching with social features than without). However, our Hulu apps were in Facebook and MySpace where people are primed to interact and socialize. On the network sites, as you point out, it could very well flop. Would love to see Hulu make a stronger move on social TV.

  2. Survey Says! V to Stream Four Days After Airing Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    [...] of V won’t be available online until four days after they air on TV (but, they will have fancy social TV functionality). Overall, ABC is obviously trying to gauge the viewing behavior of its audience, which, for a show [...]

  3. News Bites » All my deepest TV secrets. » The TV Journal Thursday, November 5, 2009

    [...] ABC adds commentary tracks, plus ability to make your own (NewTeeVee) [...]

  4. Hi Guy’s,
    Thanks for sharing information.I wonder how quickly users will acclimate to this stuff

  5. Survey Says! V to Stream Four Days After Airing [NewTeeVee] | www.onjop.com Thursday, November 19, 2009

    [...] of V won’t be available online until four days after they air on TV (but, they will have fancy social TV functionality). Overall, ABC is obviously trying to gauge the viewing behavior of its audience, which, for a show [...]

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