Television has traditionally been considered a mostly passive medium, where a viewer tunes in for one-way messaging and entertainment. But that role is changing. It's becoming a place where people can interact and even use familiar social networking tools.
Analysts say social networking has the potential to play a key role in shaping what people watch and do on the biggest screen in their homes. They say that eventually could pay off -- perhaps in terms of subscription revenue or advertising -- for the companies involved in these mostly nascent ventures, as efforts to marry the Internet and the TV gain traction.
"The TV set is evolving and content itself is evolving," says Michael Gartenberg, an analyst in the research division of Darien, Conn.-based Jupitermedia Corp. Understanding what friends are watching or doing on their TV screens "has to have a tremendous amount of value," he says.
Gamers have already embraced this kind of technology with Xbox Live, which allows users to make friends, chat and of course compete with one another. Sony, a competitor, has plans to offer social networking tools to Playstation 3 owners. Clearly, the ability to turn a non-social technology into a virtual community is enticing.
Outside of the gaming world, the trend is also catching on. A free download from Boxee allows you to check out various types of content and befriend other users, who will be able see what you're watching. And if you connect to a TV screen, it's possible to use your remote control to recommend content to others.
[Via the Wall Street Journal]