After two and a half years of writing at NewTeeVee, we’re firmly of the belief that video wants to be social. Combining television and interactivity is one of those topics that makes sense. We like to be entertained together — even sitting with strangers in a dark movie theater or next to your significant other in the living room affords some notion of collective entertainment. But what about two people who are watching the same programming from different places?
The best technology solution for those solitary couch potatoes isn’t particularly wacky or paradigm-changing, but that’s kind of the charm. Put simply, it’s text chat. It’s not a difficult concept for either users and providers. We all know how to IM with friends, and TVs and computer monitors are quickly becoming one and the same. Now it’s just a question of when and how your conversations with friends will overlay your TV watching. Here’s a look at three companies taking promising social TV approaches.
Founded by a former WebEx exec and funded by KPG Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Clipsync powers social viewing rooms for CBS’s CBS.com and its Hulu competitor TV.com, and has worked with MTV. Users watch content synchronously — meaning if you join late you miss the opening credits, and you can’t pause to go to the bathroom. A pre-roll ad runs before you join the program and then it flows without breaks. Watchers can add comments, take quizzes, place text and icons on the screen, and express themselves (pressing the “laugh” button makes your icon bounce).