On the Social TV Front - Philo in the US new Hire, Miso Gets Google Backing and UK Broadcasters eyeing Social Media

written by: Richard Kastelein

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The BBC and Channel Five in the UK have their radar set on Facebook and Twitter in order to augment their VOD platforms as the move towards social TV intensifies in Britain. It was just last week that the BBC rolled out the new iPlayer, which links with Facebook and Twitter, enabling users to share and recommend shows and now, later this summer the iPlayer will also integrate with Microsoft’s Windows Live messenger, which will allow users to chat while watching shows and sync them with what their friends are watching on the iPlayer.

New Media Age in the UK reports:

Facebook is in discussions with other broadcasters about integrating its services more closely. None of the them has a particularly large presence on the social network, but new media age understands they’re keen to ramp up social media integration to increase engagement with their VOD services.

Five is also looking at the possibility of embedding social elements into Demand Five, which is to relaunch in the autumn. Jonathan Lewis, head of digital media at Five, said, “We’re embarking on a big syndication strategy. The relaunch of Demand Five will support this.”

In March, Five reported a 25% increase in video views for its on-demand service, taking the total for the month to 6.4m. The BBC iPlayer attracts approximately 123m requests across all 25 platforms and devices on which it’s available.

The BBC will monitor the response from the iPlayer to test the effect social integration has on its viewing ratings. Social networks have become “part of the fabric of everyday life”, said Erik Huggers, BBC director of Future Media & Technology. “The question is how we, as a broadcaster, work with these services and come up with compelling propositions that make using both even better,” he told new media age.

On the US front, Philo, a Los Angeles-based firm that claims states its ambition is to "reinvent television" and has deals in place with Studio Lambert and Donald Trump Productions, recently hired former RDF USA executive VP Greg Goldman who has been named chief creative officer. Philo is on the two screen bandwagon with Miso and Starling, which both offer synergy between TV viewing and social media online alerts.

Philo has cut deals to do a number of cross-promotional initiatives which could expand to include programs such as Undercover Boss and The Apprentice.

"For the first time in 15 years, television ratings are up - and our research attributes those gains to the power of social media," said Goldman, to C21 Media.... before going on to claim that Philo (which takes its name from TV inventor Philo T Farnsworth) will be the "most important thing to happen to television since the remote control."

The company offers users a free iPhone app that allows them to 'check-in' to TV shows, rewarding them with 'prizes' for doing so - similar to location-based services Foursquare and Gowalla. They can then share this information and any comments they wish to add with friends on Twitter and Facebook.

Miso, from a company called Bazaar Labs, and Starling - a start-up that made its debut at MipTV in April and has FremantleMedia on board as a trial partner - are also trying to popularise their own equivalents. Comcast in the US is developing a social TV app, called Tunerfish.

In other news, VentureBeat reports that Google Ventures has backed Social TV app developer Bazaar Labs, the creators of an application that lets users share real-time film and TV viewing statuses.

Google Ventures was an investor in its seed funding round and other investors in the round included Georges Harik, Keith Rabois, Jawed Karim, Richard Chen, Thomas Korte and Kurt Abrahamson. The San Francisco-based Bazaar Labs' Miso application lets users "check-in" and report what TV shows and movies they are watching, and unlock various badges.

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