There’s an aspect of the TV experience that is about to get a big boost from the web-ification of TV. Automated systems are being built so that TV networks know, with more accuracy than ever before, who is tuning into their shows and programming. Bluefin Labs, based on technology developed at MIT, is monitoring data generated from social network activity and analyzing, in real-time, what people are watching. The availability of this collected data to TV networks and content providers should drive more dynamic and accurately served advertising. Example: Say you recently posted on Facebook that you bought a new car | The ‘system’ will know this and prompt the advertising network to more optimally show you a movie trailer (based on previously tweeted/blogged/posted preferences) than a wasted car commercial. The benefits are obvious and the mechanics are extremely game changing.
It’s easy to see how this technology is good for the networks as it will make airing ads so much more valuable, accurate and effective. I believe, as a platform, it should find it’s way to enhance the TV experience making it easier to watch TV WITH people you want. The activity will be similar to geo-location services like foursquare, where TV viewers will be automatically checked (and probably soon, opt-in) into the TV show or movie. When you change the channel, you’ll know who — which of your friends even — is watching the program with you. Smart/App TV applications will enable you to chat via an overlaid interface with those you want to. This enhances sport events and contest shows like American Idol by giving you a way of commenting on plays, performances and other aspects of the content.
Of course, “watching with” implies a synchronous instance, where both or many people are on at the same time. However, with DVR, Netflix, onDemand, etc, there’s likely a need for supported asynchronous data. A feature similar to enhanced BluRay discs will allow you to view comments that other viewers made that may have already watched the show or movie you’re now seeing.
The companies and services that dominate this space will have advantages by deploying their own platforms, so other applications can allow participation and/or feed off the stream of user content. It’s going to really change the way we watch TV together, and its success will depend on just how disruptive it is to our well-established and comfortable viewing habits.