We all remember Sunday afternoons spent vegging out watching television, with the channel being viewed being chosen by the holder of the remote control. But those days of watching TV collectively have passed, haven’t they?
Chill began life as the Turntable.fm for online video, with people taking it in turns to show their choice of video clip to a roomful of avatars. It worked rather well, strangely. But Chill has bigger ambitions, which it is now realizing by adding the likes of Hulu, Vevo, Livestream, Ustream, and Justin.tv to its line-up.
This is social viewing. Not a new concept but one that continues to bubble under the surface of mainstream appeal. Chill is hoping people will come to its site at show time in order to watch videos together and generally make a party out of the experience.
As far as social viewing goes Chill is a great service. It’s a central location in which people can watch videos from other services. And scheduling shows to air at various times throughout the day is a genius solution to the biggest hurdle with this kind of service.
However, I’m still not convinced social viewing is the way forward.
Part of the appeal of online video is the fact you can watch it anytime you want and in any room in the house. Or even on the go thanks to the rapid expansion of mobile technology. Social viewing takes that option away.
It’s quite an old-fashioned idea to sit around and watch the TV together as a family. The nearest you’ll come to that scenario these days is a group of friends watching a film, or a couple having a lazy day on the couch watching a DVD boxset. Times have changed.
It feels as though social viewing is bringing an old-school element into online video. And I’m not sure it’s a necessity. Especially when social networks make it easy to see what other people think of a show, or to give your own verdict on it, afterwards.
There is certainly some interest in social viewing of online video, and Chill fills that niche nicely. But I think the world is moving away from the idea that we’ll all be watching a particular thing at a particular time. Do we really want or need online video to hark back to the 1950s?