Disclaimer: the title is just a disguise for feature request/suggestion to the fine folks at Apps Perhaps. But I do really think that watching TV should be more social over the web, and Apps Perhaps’ OzTV iPhone app hopefully has the opportunity to turn this into reality.
Four hours ago I started watching the gran finale of Iron Chef series run on SBS, Hiroyuki Sakai vs Alain Passard (it was awesome!), and the first thing I did after the show finished an hour later was to search for “Iron Chef” on Twitter, I wanted to find out other people’s comments regarding the episode. Sure I found many related tweets, but the search result was polluted by some other tweets about Iron Chef in general and had nothing to do with that particular episode.
That led me to think, wouldn’t it be nice if OzTV app is able to filter those tweets? What about knowing how many people are planning to watch the show before it airs? And to push it further into the realtime realm, how about finding out who else is watching a show when it airs? Think location check-in a la Facebook Places and Foursquare, but this one is for TV shows, click the “I’m watching Iron Chef” button and have a conversation with other Iron Chef fans using Twitter via OzTV app (purely just my imagination at this stage).
I first realised that us Australians do like to tweet about popular TV shows when Masterchef became a global Twitter trend for the first time. That’s when I started thinking that watching a TV show is actually (A) a gathering of people (B) with a common interest © at distributed locations. There got to be a way to turn those tweets (and any other form of online conversations about a TV show) into valuable statistics. What’s the most popular TV show today? this week? this month? Which TV show has the most number of people planning to watch it? or commenting about it when it airs? or liking it when the show is finished?
Having those statistics allows us to reveal more interesting information than the existing one dimensional TV rating system in Australia. Social sites like Twitter enables parts of the data, OzTV app is in a good position to enable the aggregation of those data along with their own data, and turn them into valuable statistics.
To add some substance, here are some ideas on how each feature might be implemented:
Conversation / filtering tweets about a TV show: generate a hashtag derived from the name of the show plus a prefix, e.g. #ozironchef, or identify the tweets mentioning the name of the show with geolocation of the place where the show airs at the time.
How many people are planning to watch a TV show: count the number of OzTV reminders against the show, or add an “I want to watch this” button.
How many people are watching a TV show: have an “I’m watching this” button, or count the number of people tweeting about the show when it airs.
Most popular TV shows: count the number of likes, conversations, etc, against the shows, rank them over periods of time. Perhaps TV channels would be interested to have their shows featured on OzTV app a la promoted tweets.
Pushing my luck, and this depends on the quality of the data that OzTV app has, it would also be cool if the TV show page on OzTV app also lists the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts of the people involved with the show. E.g. Masterchef page displays the Twitter account of the show hosts and contestants.
Watching TV needs to be a more social experience. The question is whether applications like OzTV app will morph from a content provider into a community of Facebook and Twitter users? I understand that, at the end of the day, it all depends on whether the users will use those theoretical features on OzTV app or not, and whether those users will get some benefit out of using those features. But if we look back at the number of people tweeting about Masterchef combined with the popularity of OzTV app, a social OzTV might just work.
Do one thing and do it well. Taking my thinking hat off, I can understand that OzTV app might want to fully concentrate on being the best TV guide it can be. Instead of worrying about the social aspect of watching TV, there are still so many other things it can do, many platforms to expand to, like iPad, Android, Windows Phone, etc. Let’s see how many years, if ever, social TV can become a reality.
Any chance of getting a VC funding, hiring more people, and making social TV happen sooner?
Update (09/07/2011): Twelevision has solved the conversation part of social TV.