I’d rather watch this than use your stupid TV apps
SOCIAL TV. Have you ever heard such an obnoxious buzz phrase?
The words alone make me feel exhausted.
And yet the last few years have spawned a number of social TV apps like Fango and GetGlue, that are designed to give audiences a place where they can get together and bitch about TV shows and movies. So, like, Twitter?
Nope. Apparently Twitter is too loud, too difficult to keep up with and contains too many users that share other interests. So developers and TV studios have been teaming up to create apps that deal specifically with television, and are designed to keep you glued to the box.
Their business models vary. Many used the FourSquare model allowing users earn points for “checking in” to specific programs which they can trade for rewards, usually that help promote the network or TV show in question. Mainly, they store everything you’ve written about TV for you to come back to (instead of getting lost in the Twitter void) and they give you a way to connect with other people who share your interests.
These apps have been relatively successful and their popularity is growing by the day. GetGlue has signed up more than 2 million users. Another app, Miso, has over 100 000 registered users. Fango is also increasingly popular. These apps are a dime a dozen. There’s Tunerfish, and Peel, and Zeebox and GetGlue. And that doesn’t even include the TV specific websites and discussion boards set up by television networks to house these mutual appreciation societies.
If this is all starting to sound like a bit of a corporate circle jerk, you’d be right. These fancy new apps may give us an outlet in which to talk about TV, we’re still watching it at a time and date that suits studios, rather than at a time and a date that suits us.
While many reviewers, tech experts and entertainment gurus are crediting these apps with helping to save television, the proliferation of these so called “social TV” apps indicate the desperation of networks and studios to find ways to ensure that people continue to value modes and models of TV watching that are outdated.
These apps claim to be trying to tune in to what audiences are saying online in order to stay relevant, but they are ignoring the most obvious complaint: People want their TV shows and they want them now and they want it legally.
Go onto Twitter, and Facebook and any number of websites that discuss television on any given day and you will find pages upon pages housing comments from uses frustrated by their inability to get their hands on content, even after begging online stores like iTunes to take their cash.
Countless surveys have shown that people would prefer to pay for content instead of illegally downloading it, given the option.
Do you know how hard it is to access shows on iTunes? Many streaming and download options are geo-blocked due to strict licensing agreements with Australian television networks. And attempts to get them from other legal streaming sites are also blocked. There’s always Amazon but even then many suppliers will not ship to Australia for the same reason.
We don’t need separate apps to make us enthusiastic about watching TV. We need apps that lets us watch what we want, when we want.
Instead of employing social media experts, designers, web developers, PR and marketing guys to develop these new social TV apps, why don’t studios listen to what is already being said on social media and provide people legitimate and legal ways to watch their shows at a time that is convenient to them?
Until studios start to recognise that, these apps are destined to remain mediocre at best, and television audiences will continue to dwindle while torrenting thrives.
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