Julian Clover plays with the new social networking app that wraps around the TV.
We all know that the patterns of TV consumption are changing. It’s not just how we watch or where we watch, but what we are doing when sat down in front of the small screen. A recent Strategy Analytics report found the tablet to be replacing the PC as the companion of choice.
It’s not just the convenience of course, unlike the PCs, a tablet is less likely to burn a hole in your knee during News at Ten.
What gets really interesting is how broadcasters might embrace the tablets. Already we have the ability to use the tablet as a remote control or at the very least set programmes for later recording.
Of course one of the trends is that people are using their tablets rather than watching television and so often it is the social networking sites that grab the attention. This was not lost on Anthony Rose, the former iPlayer executive, who is now the lead on the team that has created Zeebox.
Initially launching as an iPad app, Zeebox combines a TV guide, with social networks Twitter and Facebook, to produce a popularity indicator. There are also the Zeetags that highlight individual names and topics that are currently trending.
For those with connected TVs, Zeebox will also change channel for you.
You also have access to your friends that are also on Zeebox at that time, so instead of speaking to the person sitting next to you on the sofa you can chat to them instead.
Watching Strictly Come Dancing last Saturday evening the tweets were hurtling through with fans comments on the dances, the dresses and the judges.
Rose was talking about such a link between social media and TV while at the BBC several years ago. The iPlayer has gone some way towards embracing social media, but not so far as we see within Zeebox.
There is a dilemma of course for operators; the only restriction on Zeebox is that it is currently UK only, though there are plans to go further afield into Europe and the United States. Is it in an operator’s interests to restrict social interaction to their network alone and could they do it anyway?
If there was such a restriction – and we’ve all seen the suggestion of an operator’s own social network – wouldn’t everyone just keep with Twitter or the non-aligned Zeebox.