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Philo has been in the news this summer concerning a venture capital infusion and the latest news that Philo is cooperating with IGN to reward users with offline prizes.
Philo is being describes as Twitter + Foursquare + TV, which makes it an interesting platform in the Social TV space, having to compete against Miso and others. I interviewed chief executive David Levy to have a more detailed understanding of Philo's vision, proposition and future outlook.
Can you elaborate on your tagline "(Re)inventing television"?
We often think of "watching television" as solely a viewing experience; that is, we sit and we consume (only). When you really think about it, however, television has always been and will always be an inherently social and interactive activity.
Philo provides television viewers with a fun way to unleash that social and interactive behavior and more effectively engage with viewers and programming. So we use the "(Re)inventing television" play on words to remind people what "watching" television is all about.
This week we received the news on Philo's partnership with IGN, and rewarding online participants with offline prizes.
Why did Philo go for the offline touch in its proposition?
Rewarding viewers and fans for engaging with television content has always been an important component of Philo's value proposition to users.
These rewards come in many forms including the ability to interact with viewers watching the same content, virtual awards for different viewing and engagement behavior, and "real" rewards such as those offered via the IGN partnership.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of what we're able to do by connecting viewers and programming.
One of the increasing challenges is the growing amount of (TV) content. How important is Social Discovery in Philo's proposition?
Philo's social television guide is critical to the user experience. There are hundreds of broadcast and cable channels and an almost immeasurable number of content options available from sources like iTunes, Netflix, and others.
At a given moment, only a fraction of those content options are relevant to a specific user. Philo helps users narrow down the options to relevant programming in a variety of ways including via what friends are watching and saying. Moreover, Philo users can opt to be alerted when friends tune in to shows so that they can watch and engage together.
User feedback has told us that the ability to find relevant programming via a social "lens" and at a relevant time is important to their social television experience.
Do you have further plans to enhance Social Discovery?
Yes. Stay tuned.
Having a website and mobile apps, are you planning a TV app that streams information?
Existing and forthcoming TV application platforms provide a lot of opportunity for social TV enhancement via the Philo platform. As these platforms roll out, we will provide more detail about our plans. Next to check-ins, Philo offers real-time interaction between friends.
Is TV content the primary or secondary objective in the Philo experience for users?
The viewer's experience is Philo's primary objective. We have found that building a large, simultaneous, and engaging audience around programming enhances the viewer's experience. The television content is the centerpiece of the experience, but the social interaction among users ties content, viewers, and, consequently, the experience together.
What can you say on the type of real-time interaction that is common between Philo users?
In a short amount of time, we have watched the real-time interaction among viewers using Philo evolve from users simply sharing what they are watching (i.e., checking-in) to viewers engaging with each other during programming. We will continue to build features and functionality that allows users to more effectively interact with each other and with television programming.
Greg Goldman, Philo's Chief Creative Officer said: "For the first time in 15 years, television ratings are up--and our research attributes those gains to the power of social media".
Can Philo act as a sort of research/insight tool for TV networks?
Yes. We are able to measure not only when and what people are watching, but how people are engaging with programming.
Do you consider this a viable B2B revenue model for Philo?
We have not discussed our business model publicly, but believe there is tremendous value in being able to connect people (and the social graph) to specific moments in television programming.
What do you see as potential B2C revenue models for Philo?
As noted, we have not discussed our business model publicly, but believe there is tremendous value in being able to connect people (and the social graph) to specific moments in television programming.
How can TV networks deploy Philo and other Social TV applications?
TV networks are already working with Philo to drive live tune-in to television programming. Making viewers aware that programming is available, that their friends and others are watching, and that they can interact with friends and other viewers around programming allows networks to build strong and engaged communities tied to their television shows.
Considering this emerging industry and the increasing competition in this space, do you think an "one-for-all-purposes" application can be developed in order for companies to penetrate the target audience massively?
We are excited about the many existing and forthcoming approaches to social television and believe that different approaches will appeal to different users.
With Philo, we built the platform in response to how viewers use social media to interact with television programming. Specifically, we observed the power of enabling large and simultaneous audiences to engage with programming and with each other and how it ultimately enhances the collective viewing experience.
We will continue to build features and functionality that allow users to watch and interact with television together in new and fun ways.
David Levy is the co-founder and CEO of Philo Media Corporation. Prior to founding Philo, David co-founded real gifting platform Tigerbow, created the Internet research and investment banking practice at ING Barings / Furman Selz, was a senior member of the Internet research team at Chase / H&Q, and invested in the growth and technology companies for several private investment partnerships. David is a graduate of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology at the University of Pennsylvania and is co-head of the Wharton Angel Network.