We’ve all got that one friend. You know? The one who talks on and on and on while you’re trying to watch your favorite TV show? The one you’re always trying to get to shut up.
Well, the time for rejoicing is at hand, my friend. Thanks to Portland-based SplashCast and their latest endeavor, “Social TV.”
What’s Social TV you ask?
Chatter allows users to easily add text-based commentary as they watch an episode of a TV show. These comments become aggregated with all previous viewers’ commentary and are presented as a stream that is synched with the video, as opposed to real-time. The fact that Chatter is done in “video time” versus “real time” creates a unique experience of revealing the community’s collective reactions to a TV show as it unfolds. It adds a completely new dimension to watching TV, and gives you a reason to watch the same episode of your favorite show over and over again. Often, the Chatter is more interesting than the show itself.
It’s like someone slapped a big IRC channel on the side of your TV. So you can see all the witty banter of the other participants. Or you can just participate in the chatroom and use the TV show as background noise. Either way.
But unlike the friend who won’t quit talking, this chatter is asynchronous—yet timed with the show itself. So, if you say something funny at the 4:07 mark, someone else, weeks from now, will be able to chime in with a witty retort at 4:07:01.
Or as the folks over at Mashable put it:
The cool thing is that this is not done in real-time, but instead any time you chatter, it is synced to the video. So if you watch The Simpsons and put in a comment 6 minutes into the show, future users will see that comment, even if they watch the episode the next day. It’s like a running commentary left by social network users.
Even more interesting? The retention rates this conversation stream brings about, as TechCrunch highlights:
Most of the comments are pretty mindless, as you’d expect, but it makes watching more fun.
It also makes online TV more engaging. SplashCast found that adding chat to TV on the Web keeps people’s attention longer. In the two weeks since it introduced the Chatter feature, SplashCast has found that viewing time has gone up 50 percent to an average of 14 minutes, and the number of viewers who watch a video all the way through to the end has gone up 42 percent. That is probably because they are not watching, but reading what people are saying, and it is also probably why SplashCast throws ads into the conversation stream.
A little over a year ago, SplashCast brought in $4 million in venture capital. At that time, they were pursuing more of a “social advertising” model—wrapping shows and video in branded content that resided in a larger social network stream of chatter. Now, thanks to that funding and some experimentation they many have a new direction.
One thing is for sure: by bringing that chatter more directly into the SplashCast chrome, they may have very well hit on how to make Social TV pay.
For more, see the SplashCast post on Social TV.