June 6, 2012

‘Social TV’ just got a whole new meaning with Stevie

Ayelet NoffDo you “check in” to shows while you’re watching them? Does that make your TV watching experience social enough for ya? Well, sorry to disappoint, but that thing you’re doing whenever you watch TV and check in to a show is going to have to be called something else, because social TV is quickly evolving to a different type of activity altogether, more fitting of that name.

Social TV, right now, is simply a name for sharing with your connections across social media networks what you’re watching. That’s cool, but the social elements of it are kind of scarce – you tell people and you might get a sticker or badge for the effort. That’s not a two-way street, like social platforms should be. Discussing your TV viewing experience is mostly like Foursquare for TV shows.

Ryan Gosling

So what really is social TV? Let’s stick with the Foursquare metaphor for a bit. Think about a location-based service that, instead of telling other people where you are, creates places for you to be according to what your social connections share. That pub you just walked into is inspired by a tweet your friend made and the bartender just happens to be Ryan Gosling(because you like him on Facebook), the music playing is a song your boyfriend posted on your wall, and almost all the people there are your social connections.

While that would be awesome, there isn’t a location based service that does this yet. However, there is a social TV platform that does the same for all these check-in based wannabe social television platforms. I’m talking about a social TV platform that instead of helping you tell everyone what you’re watching, creates a television station you can watch completely made out of your social graph, tailored for you by your friends and connections, created by your social feeds and broadcast right to your browser.

Stevie TV: Content related to your friends’ top topics

This social TV station is called Stevie, and it has all you need in a station. The Stevie TV schedule is made up of various shows, each composed of content related to a specific topic from your friends and connections and popular among users across the Web. The shows run in a loop, and there are six of them, each more fun than the next.

The schedule starts with “Top Stories,” which shows you several top posts from your connections. “Fresh Picks” shows you new and exciting content and videos from friends and hot events coming up. “The Comedy Strip” is like a comedy central featuring friends and funny tweeps around the Web. “New Albums” features a photo album recently added by a friend. “Music Non Stop” features music you like, music your friends like and music your friends posted. Celeb TV is a gossip show that covers only the celebrities you like. Most of the shows also feature a real-time crawl of the latest and greatest general posts from your social network, and you can use “Stevie on Demand” to watch whatever show you want when you want it.

Most of the shows feature a news channel-style layout, in which you see a video in the middle (according to the theme of the show), a crawl at the bottom usually featuring content from connections and power users and a box on the side featuring what’s next or interesting information about your friends. For example, in “Music Non Stop” you see musicians your friends like.

So what does this mean for the future of social TV, or of any specialized social market? When will we see services create new experiences out of social graphs rather than amplify existing ones? Though hologram and robotics technology is still a ways away from being able to create my vision of the “Foursquare of the future,” services already exist that create radio and music stations according to your social profiles. Stevie is just the next step to a custom-made world.

Now to just get this Ryan Gosling shaped bartending robot and my life will be complete.