Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Social Video Viewing

Have you ever wanted to comment on a television show while watching it in real time? If you feel that talking to your friends the next day about a show is not enough, then there is finally a solution for you. The idea is “social networking video viewing” sites. I don’t even know if there is a proper name for these sites yet. What these sites allow you do is basically what the title states, which is to comment on the current, show that you are watching. To add a little flavor to the game, these website award points for comical or even crude comments. One of these games, called Backchannel, allows its viewers to even throw animated tomatoes onto the screen.

In today’s society “social viewing” has a lot of potential. “With increasing broadband penetration, online video is in the midst of a boom: According to a May report, Americans watched 12 billion videos across sites like Hulu and YouTube even as TV's numbers continue to decline. Meanwhile, online communities like Flickr and Facebook continue to snowball in size and popularity.”

Even though “social video viewing” is free, I am sure over time the companies who run these sites will find a way to charge their customers. They could possibly make the customers pay if they wanted to leave an audio or video response.

Some example of these video viewing sites include: CBS Social Viewing Rooms, Fan Pages, The Watercooler, and Lycos Cinema. Fan Pages, which is offered by Comcast, allows its fans to assemble and debate upon upcoming plots or who their favorite characters are. The Watercooler brings together fans of sports and entertainment communities. The Watercooler currently has 25 million subscribers. Lycos Cinema allows viewers to chat with friends while watching their desired movie.

Although “social video viewing” has not taken off, it has the potential to become very popular. Over the years television ratings have declined while the public has begun to watch their favorite TV shows online. Instead of going out to the theatre, you can just go to your computer to see your favorite movie. For those who are lazy and social (hard to imagine you can be both) social video networking just made your life a whole lot better. This idea combines AIM with watching online television. You also receive imaginary points based on your comments toward the show.

As someone who is not an avid social networker I find “social video networking” kind of useless in the sense that I would rather leave the two ideas separate. I would rather watch my favorite show and then have an intellectual discussion in real life with my real friends. I am not trying to bash “social video networking” because I am sure that when I get bored enough, I could see myself giving these sites a try. Although I like the idea behind these sites, it seems like there was not that much creativity put into the idea before the final product came out. The creator simply put two popular ideas together (social networking and online video viewing) to make “social video viewing,”

I also linked here some of the sites mentioned in my article:
CBS Social Viewing Rooms:
Fan Pages:
The Watercooler:
The Lycos Cinema:

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