CBS Social Viewing Rooms | Are Virtual Living Rooms The Future Of Web Television?

1 min read

How important is the social side of watching TV to you? If very, then CBS thinks it has a solution to make Web video less of a lonely pastime.

One of the biggest problems with Web video is the solitary nature of it all. Watch a video on YouTube, Hulu, Joost and the rest and you’re likely to be alone in your home or office with no-one to share the experience with.

While that’s fine for some television programmes, others are clearly meant to be watched in groups, be it a family gathered around the telly, or a group of friends getting together for a few drinks and a bit of TV.

CBS Social Viewing Rooms

CBS Interactive thinks it has the answer: Social Viewing Rooms, which once launched are set to allow groups of people to watch shows on together, even if they happen to be miles away from each other.

By clicking on the ‘Watch and Chat’ button on the site, multiple people will enter a room The video content will be then synchronised so that everyone will be watching the same moments together.

Interactive Features

There will then be various social and interactive features available to all those in that room together.

This includes the ability to chat, take polls, compete in quizzes, and even throw animated objects such as kisses and tomatoes at the screen, dependent of course on whether the programme is a hit or not.

Variety Of Content

Both prime time and daytime programmes will be available through the service from this week, with The Amazing Race, Big Brother, How I Met Your Mother, Survivor, and CSI all being offered for social viewing.

Soohoo Speaks

Anthony Soohoo, senior VP and GM of CBS Interactive, told Yahoo:

“In the past when you watch videos online, it’s a very isolating experience. This takes people 3,000 miles away and makes them feel like they’re sitting on the couch next to each other.”

“The social viewing room is a next-generation social media platform that lets users engage with each other and the content they are watching in a fun new way.”


CBS isn’t the first company to experiment with such features for its online video content, with ABC Family having already done so. Lycos lets people watch movies together, and PalTalk allows people to chat online while watching live Web shows.

But CBS seems to going all-out to make the social side of watching television something that can translate to the Internet. The company hopes to expand the features to other networks such as the CW and Showtime in the future.

In theory, this sounds like a brilliant idea, but in reality, it could end up merely being a five-minute wonder that doesn’t offer enough to draw people back time and time again. After all, isn’t a real living room superior to a virtual one?