Television has always been an inherently social activity. While watching TV on your own is an acceptable thing to do, it’s not the same as sitting around watching the goggle box with other people. Maybe online video can help reverse the trend for solo TV viewing.
The (D)Evolution Of Television
When television was first invented and released to the public, watching programming on it was an event. Often, neighbors would visit just to watch whatever was being shown on the box in the living room.
Back then, of course, there wasn’t exactly much to watch. Now, as television has evolved, the amount of programming has increased, and with that the number of people watching each show has decreased.
Couple that with our busier lives and the occurrence of people watching television together has reduced dramatically. But it’s not from a lack of desire.
Social Web TV
Thankfully, the Web is helping bring this kind of social viewing back. According to The New York Times, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, video chatting services like Skype, specially created Web sites, and streaming video locales such as Justin.tv are all assisting in a new interpretation of social viewing.
Which is good news, but it could be ever better. Surely online video is the perfect vehicle for bringing the idea of social TV viewing back to the mainstream.
Social Viewing Examples
There are a few examples of attempts to make social viewing the absolute center of the online video experience.
In 2008, CBS created its Social Viewing Rooms, virtual living rooms where people could sit around watching their favorite shows together, and commenting and discussing them as they played out.
The problem is that none of these efforts have truly solved the problem or caught on in a big way. Which is a shame as humans are naturally social animals and need interaction while partaking in most activities. And watching TV is no exception.
The best examples of social TV viewing to date are the CNN broadcasts coupled with Facebook updates. But I get the feeling more is needed and more is on its way. The question is who will wrestle social TV viewing into submission first. My money is on Hulu.