There are multiple aspects that define the Social TV experience.
Some of these aspects are:
*Changing basic TV experience from lean-back to lean-in;
*Technology factors like Internet-Connected TV adoption;
*Remote controls that support the social experience effectively and
*Broadband access and so on.
These aspects are all external when we look at the social experience itself, namely communication/interaction.
Would (the type of) interaction be a determinant of how the Social TV experience is created?
What if instead of the enabling of interaction being the starting point for Social TV developments, we take the TV content and its public interaction as starting point.
In the Social TV: Designing for Distributed, Sociable Television Viewing paper, the type of interaction is being researched.
At a general level, we can characterize the comments exchanged by our participants using five broad types (Table 1):
• Content-based comments directly reference the content that is on or recently shown on the screen.
• Context-based comments are relevant to the show in its greater context, but perhaps not the specific episode or moment that is being viewed.
Examples are references to the actors, past episodes, show trivia, etc.
• Non-sequitur comments are social exchanges such as asking about one’s family, or talking about events unrelated to the TV program. These are usually more common in groups who already have some social connection with each other.
They often take the form of side conversations (usually whispered, or at least toned down) between two participants and rarely follow the structure of the show.
• Logistical comments are relevant to the television watching experience, but are independent of the programming.
Tasks like changing channels, adjusting volume, etc. must be verbally communicated to the group so that whoever has control of the set can respond.
• Phatic responses are almost involuntary reactions from the audience like laughter, gasps, groans, “Whoa!”, etc.
To summarize, our observations reveal that interactions between television viewers are tightly interwoven with the structure of the show they are watching.
Do the types of comments/interaction need to be taken into account when designing the Social TV technologies?
Yes, here's why:
Depending on the TV show, one- or two-screen experiences can be dynamically created in offering widgets or sites in order to communicate in a way which is appropriate for that TV show.
For instance Content-based comments could be showed directly next to the TV content, whilst Logistical comments can be better displayed on a second-screen, without adding noise and irrelevance in relation to the TV content.
Key is to keep it simple without complicating matters in terms of usage and consistency.
This point of view might also explain why current Social TV widgets only clutter the screen instead of adding additional value for the viewers. Twitter for instance is so broad it contains any kind of comment that will be displayed by the Twitter widget. Intelligent systems could detect types of comments and distribute them differently.
Maybe intelligent systems are one step too far ahead, but the offered applications can be enhanced to the most probable or occuring type of interaction related to the TV show.
What do you think, does taking into account the type of interaction, enhance the Social TV experience or not?