From time to time I do find pleasure in “vegging” out and watching TV. As a usability professional, however, I have often found myself wanting more out of my TV time. I sit with my tablet looking for additional content or I talk with friends via the old school social channels of Twitter and Facebook. But those simple social channels don’t seem connected to my TV programing and the communication is fragmented and/or limited.
And, it seems I’m not alone in my search to optimize TV time.
A Nielsen study found that 88% of tablet owners use their portable device while watching TV. Smartphone users were not far behind with 86% engaging with their mobile device while watching TV. While some of this is simple multi-tasking, undoubtedly others are searching for a richer social TV browsing experience.
About six months ago, my inner couch potato and my inner usability geek were delighted to discover a few new tools that consolidated many of my TV experience needs. My favourites among the SocialTV 1.0 mobile/tablet apps are IntoNow, GetGlue, Yap.TV, TunedIn, Zeebox and Viggle. These SocialTV tools have extended my experience in six great ways:
- Sharing +
In addition to the expected Twitter stream, IntoNow, Yap.TV, TunedIn and Zeebox feature polls and real-time in-app dialogue that seem to make sharing an integrated part of the show (I love the clap meter). You can also easily pull in your Facebook friends and create a somewhat private conversation.
- Deeper content
For shows that you love to watch and love to talk about, Yap.TV and IntoNow give you great dinner conversation nuggets. You will often find additional videos, photos and special content about the cast.
- Discover new programs
Using your browsing/viewing history and that of your friends, IntoNow, Viggle and Yap.TV are able to recommend programs. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to program your DVR from the app; however, several players including Zeebox are working with the cable companies to integrate tablets and smartphones with cable/DVR boxes.
- Schedule future programing
Several of the apps, including Viggle, allow you to add simple push notifications and email alerts for future broadcast times. This feature will be limited at best until cable/DVR box integration is complete.
In addition to social rewards via badges, Viggle offers viewers points for viewing ad and program content. The points can be redeemed in the Viggle reward store for free products from major brands, including Starbucks and Papa John’s Pizza. Combine free pizza and coffee with a night of TV and I’m there.
As part of SocialTV 1.0, Viggle integrates shopping into the TV viewing experience by linking programs to a set of keywords that feed to Amazon and iTunes. SocialTV 2.0 promises to be much more robust. New tools will offer the ability to purchase merchandise being advertised during commercial breaks as well as the products/props that are within the content of the show.
As a usability/experience marketer, I love the digital potential to build brand engagement via these tools. As a couch potato, I find amazing digital utility that creates a different level of entertainment from my old school TV. I’m really looking forward to the next wave of these apps.
So, I guess I really want my SocialTV 2.0…
Tags: GetGlue, IntoNow, multi-device viewing, Multi-tasking, Smart TV, Social TV, Social TV viewing, TunedIn, Viggle, Yap.TV, Zeebox