With 45M internet-ready TVs shipping this year, there’s a minor land rush in process adapting the building blocks for community and social commerce from the web to the largescreen TV and communal setting in the living room.
There’s a lot of buzz around EBSNs (Event Based Social Networks), bridging web-proven viral loops and social commerce to live connected sporting events and network premieres. This is an obvious direction for flash community gatherings around live broadcasts but doesn’t address the majority of legacy media content available to viewers.
I visited with Scott Varlard (co-founder and CEO) and Philippe Pierre (CFO) of SocialBomb, a NY-based social technology company that is figuring out how to build community and bring social value to the mostly time-shifted reality of TV and webTV content. These guys are betting that brands and fans are both interested in social viewing and sharing around their favorite shows and movies.
SocialBomb, if you don’t know them, is the company that provided the community and technology platform for the HBO release of True Blood Season 2 Blu-ray DVD. This HBO release pioneered scene sharing, social incentives and on-big-screen controls for the Blue-ray release of the blockbuster hit series.
Scott and Pierre walked me through the demo…cool stuff to be able to easily pair your Blu-ray to Facebook and Twitter, share scenes and engage with a bunch of social incentivized activities. I’m a bit geeky and a huge True Blood fan so maybe I’m an easy sell for this but there is real potential here especially as this paradigm moves to streaming catalogs as well as DVD-based content.
This was a gutsy leap of faith for HBO to try this even as a ‘quiet launch’…big win for SocialBomb to pull it off so crisply. Connecting a DVD and TV to the Internet is still the domain of the few and DVDs, in my opinion, are a legacy format looking for some additional life. But…rumor is that fans liked it, scene sharing was very active (the coolest part) and both the fans and HBO have deemed this a success.
My take is that this is a small but important proof point on how to create community events around time-shifted content. DVDs are a second tier choice after streaming for many, but if this provides social proof in the small, hard-wired world of DVDs, it should work well for the mass market as a streamed, built in and easy to set up media in millions of living rooms this holiday season.
Let’s imagine the not so distant future.
Take what SocialBomb has done and apply it to streaming content and connected big screen TVs with, as well, 2nd and 3rd screens on the couch and mobile devices thrown in wherever they may be. And where every title on Netflix or Hulu or Boxee is able to connect to Facebook and Twitter with scene sharing, some social gaming and merchandizing built in. You can watch and rewatch and share media content in a social setting on any screen anytime.
This means that every time I view Godfather II or Hustle and Flow, or Entourage, I will be able to create a flash community event, share scenes and participate in extending my passion for movies, a particular movie or TV show down to the scene level. And most likely, this will inspire others to download and view and share as well.
I think there is something here…maybe not exactly as I’ve described it or precisely as SocialBomb is working with HBO. But something…significant.
People on the social graph, 500M on Facebook and millions on Twitter are hungry for content to share. On Facebook alone, an average user generates 90 pieces of shared content equaling 30B shared pieces monthly (mostly photos). With a tangible connected TV footprint coming and flash community capabilities being developed by SocialBomb and others, there will be a lot of scene sharing and social gaming around what we all do a lot of…that is watch TV. Scene clips could be the next step beyond photos as shareable objects. And everyone has movie and TV scenes that they would want to send as a video invitation to their friends and communities to join in the fun…or watch later.
This is also an innovative solution on how to take the real-time community of the social web and our social networks and connect it with time-shifted movies and TV and sports media that we love and watch and rewatch over and over again.
I can’t see this as any other than a win for everyone…including of course the content owners.
I’m very positive about a real-time social environment on the big screen around legacy content. Certainly more questions than answers exist today, but having all media content available all the time and platforms like Facebook or Twitter seamlessly tied into my ability to share…just makes sense.
Sharing in a Facebook-powered world is a common bond across all networks. Daily and by the billions of posts, we let each other know where we’ve checked in on Foursquare for the best expresso and where we are traveling to and the restaurants we frequent. It’s a natural (and significant) step forward to share movie and TV content we deeply identify with at a scene level, plugged into the social graph and shareable across all of our communities.
Thanks to my friend Jeff Blackman for introducing me to the SocialBomb team.