The television viewing experience has gone through some major changes since its introduction in 1926, from humongous living room fixtures with small screens, all the way up to now with screens as flat as paintings and just as easily mounted. While the design of televisions seems to be in constant flux, it appears as though we’d hit a relative plateau in how we watch television. The VCR and DVD eras were huge, as well as the introduction of TiVo and DVR but outside of that the way we watch TV has pretty much remained constant. Well, it looks as that’s beginning to change as numerous companies and networks are exploring options as far as making your viewing experience my interactive and immersive.
A couple options exist, but one in particular has made strides in changing the way we watch TV. Shazam began as a music recognition app, a way to identify a song you heard and liked but had no idea what it was called. It wasn’t until 2012 that Shazam began its foray into television, identifying songs in shows and commercials but it didn’t stop there. Now you can “tag” songs and access additional content (for shows specifically partnered with Shazam) by ‘Shazamming’ your TV. One of the most ‘Shazamed’ programs is Fox’s Glee where you can identify songs used on the show, and buy them in-app.
Taking a very different approach is HBO. HBOGo was created as a response to the trend of services such as Netflix, and began offering its content On-Demand to subscribers via mobile. One problem that Netflix ran into was customers sharing their login information with non-subscribers but HBO countered that by encouraging members to share their content. We’ll see how this approach changes in the near future, but it’s definitely a commendable effort for the moment.
Last, but certainly not least, is the social media giant, Twitter. With the incredible success of Twitter and the convenience of rallying a conversation around hashtags, nearly every network and show has capitalized on and taken advantage of how easy it is to tap directly into their viewing audience. Second screen apps such as Peel and Zeebox, which are innovative in their own right, have even integrated Twitter directly into their programs across devices, recognizing just how much of an impact social media has on the experience of watching television. Small screen queen, Shonda Rhimes (creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and this fall’s How To Get Away With Murder), even credits Twitter as a huge contributor to the success of her hit show, Scandal. Rhimes says that Twitter becomes a “giant chat room” about her shows on Thursday nights.
As the lines between television and digital interaction begin to be more and more blurred, the quality of tools we have to experience our favourite programs are growing into real expressions of creative and collaborative innovation. This is definitely an exciting time, and came right when we thought we’d seen it all.
By Jason Edelman, Fueled