Social TV looks set to be the Next Big Thing in the world of online entertainment. And although video sharing sites are making use of cutting-edge and ever-evolving technology, in many ways social TV is a traditional idea, combining entertainment with socialising.
But how exactly do social TV websites work, and what approaches do they use to allow viewers to share and recommend videos, movies and TV programmes?
One approach is to use a voting or ranking system for video content. The social news site Digg allows users to submit a link, story or video which other users can then like, or “digg”. The number of diggs that a story or video collects will determine how it spreads. The site highlights “Top News” – that is, stories with the most diggs – and “My News”, a selection of top stories based on your preferences, trending content and who you choose to follow.
StumbleUpon uses a similar approach: it finds and recommends web pages, photos and videos based on community ratings, the user’s social network and the user’s personal tastes.
Social video curation
A second approach for social TV is to allow viewers to navigate between curated online channels in the same way they would ordinary TV channels. Rather than users browsing recommended videos themselves, sites like Redux feed a continuous stream of video content based on what their friends are sharing and what’s trending. Users can also become channel curators by adding RSS feeds, Twitter accounts or other sources.
High quality sources selection
A third approach, favoured by social video site videOMG, is to make available a range of high quality sources that users can invite their friends to watch, share and chat about. videOMG has a database of hundreds of thousands of movies and videos organised into collaborative channels, and users can view recommendations based on their personal interests and on friends’ suggestions.