The Emergence of Social TV via ‘Check-in’ – The Good and Bad

No one is quite sure what the next step for TV and the Internet is going to be. Some, like Google, think it will be by bringing the Web through the actual TV, while others like GetGlueHotPotato, Kickfour, Tunerfish, Miso and Philo, believe we’ll use our ‘net-connected portable devices to interact with friends while watching passive TV or enjoying other entertainment media like books, movies, etc. Most likely the future will be a combination of both, however, the new entertainment “check-in” model is quite appealing since it requires no fancy hardware other than your standard smartphone/MID, netbook/laptop, or tablet to log in.

Demo: Miso’s new iPad app

Unfortunately, the downside to most of these check-in services is that they rely on the participation of your network of friends to get the whole thing going — which can be a challenge if your friends are either not on the service, they prefer a competing service, or they’re just against the whole sharing of opinions online with random people you know. What’s more, the “badge” model of incentivation these services use and promote have their limits as to how far they can push users to stay active.

So the question is: Will you check-in? I’m guessing you might, but three things need to happen to keep you going; 1) you somehow manage to get an active group of friends to join you on a particular network; 2) your friends are largely interested in the same TV shows you watch; 3) you gain value from the service besides the ability to interact with friends, like/dislike items, and earn badges.

In regards to adding value, GetGlue is one of the first of these services to provide a recommendation engine — which is a good start. It will be interesting to see what these services come up with to add value and keep users checking in. In fact, they’ve got to since, according to Read Write Web, “The TV industry is hoping these kinds of applications will help it strike back against audience attrition and provide a new channel for content producers to market their work.” In other words, the end game for these services is pulling in marketing/advertising dollars to stay in business.

Personally, all I want is a service that is focused on just TV and will let me interact with my circle of friends, possibly friends of friends, and maybe the public just to get the general pulse — even better if the app recommended similar shows and allowed me to set my DVR to record them or add them to my Netflix/Blockbuster/Hulu queue to rent or stream. The app by default should show you what your friends are watching in real-time and provide a way for you to invite others (via e-mail or through your other social networks) to join you in viewing a program at a certain time. Another hurdle not really talked about is time zone and spoilers. If you’re on Twitter regularly, you know what I’m talking about — someone on the East Coast spoils the ending of a show you were looking forward to watching later in the evening on the West Coast.

UPDATE: I just received a note from Miso. They say they have a new feature that goes beyond badges to provide value. Read below (related blog post):

Today, we also annouced a new feature for avid fans who “check-in” to their favorite shows called the Fan Club. When people check-in to a show a certain number of times week-over-week, they will unlock the Fan Club and gain access to content such as photos, videos, fun facts, quizzes, and much more. The more you check-in the more you unlock. The incentive now goes beyond earning more points and badges — to getting fun content related to the show. Our first partner to participate and use the Fan Club is TNT for season 3 of Leverage. Starting this Sunday on the web, Leverage fans will see a new section called the Fan Club! The Fan Club will also exist on the new iPhone and iPad app once it is approved in the App Store.


Low-tech Social TV alternatives: create a Facebook event and invite friends, join a Facebook TV group/fan page, or just use Twitter’s hashtags to track the conversation around your favorite shows (that’s what I usually do).

Related: One of the first movers in the Social TV space: SplashCast (now defunct – coverage)

* Social TV services in the Bay Area: e-mail me, if you’re looking to bring on someone with fresh ideas to the table.

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Filed in: Content Providers, Industry Buzz, Portable Media Players, Software

1 Reaction to “The Emergence of Social TV via ‘Check-in’ – The Good and Bad”

  1. Phoebe_b says:

    The observation about Facebook fan pages and Twitter hashtags raises a key question. How many people who already belong to several social networks want to join an additional, niche network for entertainment? It seems to me that these services have to offer significant extra value beyond the social interactions that mainstream networks already offer.