Once Verizon added Twitter and Facebook to FiOS TV, it was a foregone conclusion that more TV-related companies would jump into the social networking fray. And in fact, Motorola had its own demonstration of TV Twitter at SCTE. However, it turns out that there may be a more meaningful way to look at “social” features for television viewing. In short, TV content and viewing behaviors are perfect material for social networking, but the TV itself is not a great social networking platform. The industry needs to take advantage of the first premise and recognize the limitations inherent in the second.
Without jumping too far into the future, there will come a day when each of us will likely have access to reports of our own TV consumption behaviors online. We’re already moving in that direction with the trend toward remote DVR scheduling. Right now, many service providers allow you (or soon will allow you) to look up shows online and set your DVR to record. Once you can view the programs scheduled and already recorded on your DVR, it’s a short hop to being able to share that information with other people. It may be hard to understand why you’d want to do that, but just start to imagine the possibilities. In the future you could forward a synopsis link to Twitter followers as you set a program to record, or post a widget on your Facebook page highlighting the TV shows on your schedule for the week. Once that information was embedded, you could riff off in a million directions. You could get and share: info on which friends are watching the same shows, news about related live events, updates on a series schedule, invitations to online contests and other activities, or even episode clips from the season so far. The possibilities are endless. And yes, this turns into a form of targeted advertising and promotion, but it also becomes a potentially valuable service for consumers.
Back to Motorola for a moment, what the company actually showed at SCTE was a set-top networked out to a Motorola Blur server. Yes, MOTOBLUR, as in the new mobile phone service. I don’t know where the demo goes from here, but it’s certainly interesting to speculate. Perhaps we’ll see more at CES in January.