Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The TV Set as a Social Hub

The TV set is evolving and content itself is evolving

- Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupitermedia Corp.

In Christopher Lawton, "TV+Social Network=? " The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2008

The idea of television as a domestic box that sends programs to homes but doesn't not allow anything else is increasingly out of date. Many cable and satellite systems allow video on demand, and entertainment consoles by Apple and Microsoft allow people to view internet content on their big screens. Increasingly, even people's interactions with their friends and relatives are moving through the TV set.

While many still have to go to their internet-connected computer to interact with others about what they are viewing on their TV, that is changing. A growing number of tools are allowing people to not only view a broader type of programming on their TVs, they are allowing people to share their experiences. "The movement was pioneered in part by videogame-console makers such as Microsoft as a way to connect hard-core gamers [on its Xbox] for competitive matches, and it is gaining momentum as those companies and others seek to entice a broader audience to chat with friends, share photos and recommend movies and music over their television screens."

Microsoft is working to enhance the features of its gaming console that allow people to form communities of interest even when they are not playing games. Sony is doing the same thing. In fact, even Hollywood movie studies have gotten into the act. "Disney's recent release of "Sleeping Beauty," for example, includes a "movie chat" feature in which friends watching the movie simultaneously from different locations can exchange messages on their TV screens with Internet-connected devices such as iPhones or BlackBerrys."

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