Simon Says: The Future Of Social TV

Twitter TV

TV is dead.

By "TV" I mean the scheduling, and by "dead" I mean it is on its last legs. With on-demand tv and a flood of illegal files flouting around forums minutes after shows have aired it's only a matter of time until all TV is on-demand, and more importantly social.

You can currently share links to TV shows on social sites but this is limited. You can also take part in real-time conversations about TV shows on Twitter, but this isn't always as formalised as it needs to be.

A lot of TV shows have a hashtag appear at the start of the show to encourage people to get talking about a program. This is great fun, but will only work while we have a schedule. After that you can Tweet your opinion but it will not be a conversation. Tweeting an opinion may help the program makings but will it spark off rich, real-time debates?

GetGlued is a start up I adore. You can check in to different bits of media (tv shows/ films / books etc) which attempts to use your interests to suggest other media you might enjoy. Sharing this information with your friends also allows you to have offline conversations about shows you've been watching. It also uses the clubcard loyalty system in the form if badges (similar to FourSquare) to encourage people to return to use the site.

I'd like to see GetGlued let you log in through your Spotify and iTunes accounts so when you listen to music or buy a book it will automatically check you in. has run a cool service for years which records every track you listen to and suggests gigs / other artists you might be interested in. Why can't GetGlued sit behing the scenes of your Kindle or iBook shelf and log you in and out of media when you're consuming it?

In America Hulu offers people the facility to stream shows from several TV networks. These videos are rented by users but also has adverts. Personally I believe charging for TV is going to become almost impossible very soon. I think this will help filter out bad (or less popular) program's as they lose funding.

I believe buying DVDs of TV shows and adverts will become the only way of funding content it in the future. Too many people know how to illegally share and distribute tv shows quickly for free after the show has aired once.

SeeSaw was a UK-based service that allowed people to rent shows or watch them for free (ad supported). Although the site (at its most popular) attracted 2 million hits, it was never going to survive while the TV networks had more of their content on their official on-demand players. Additionally most of the content is free on the official streaming sites, why pay when you can get it for free?

The generation I am from is far too used to getting things for free. From Napster to torrent files, we're so used to not paying for things media it's going to get harder to try and sell it to us. This is actually a great thing. The amount of bad cheap TV shows that exist need to stop. The amount of channels is overwhelming.

With only the best shows getting viewers, TV networks can charge more from advertisers. Ultimately generating a free-market schedule of program's the majority wants to watch.

What we need is a universal passport for on-demand services (similar to Hulu). The universal platform would provide 90% of the content for free (ad supported) and charges a very low fee to watch it "first".

Why would people pay to see it first? The interaction that you can only get from scheduling. The "stars" of the shows will answer questions and provide commentary but only for the first showing. Sir Alan Sugar does this very will during the Apprentice, and I would imagine program's like Dragons Den will not be far behind.

Your "passport" will be linked to the main social networks - namely Facebook and Twitter with an option for fun services like GetGlued. This way advertisers know a bit more about the demographics of the viewers in order to sell advertising space in this middle of the show. You will need a free passport to watch any content.

At the side of every program there will be a Facebook Like box for the official Page of that show as long with an official hashtag, and where applicable a Twitter account. This will help attract viewers in the future and keep the show in the mind of the existing audience.

Finally, websites such as GetGlued will harness the conversations and reviews. Helping suggest shows by crowd souring people's opinions. Much like did before Google purchased them for doing such an awesome job of sentiment analysis.

I think the best platform for on-demand TV is yet to be discovered. YouTube fancied a go at it and has done an average job, but I would still say Hulu is the closest service to getting it right. Where would you like to see the future of social TV go?

Photo (cc) Yvette Wohn