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I Want My Social TV

As the consumer electronics super-Mecca, 2011 International CES, wound to a close in Las Vegas, I found myself asking: Where’s my social TV? Yes, there are plenty of new TVs with apps from Pandora (woohoo, free music) to Netflix (yay for old episodes of Dexter). TVs can connect to the Internet and tell you the weather, the traffic and what movies Alfonso Ribeiro has been in while you’re watching episodes of Fresh Prince. But something’s lacking …

TV has almost always been a social experience, from gathering around the 9″ black-and-white, to watching important news events in shop windows. So, why is it — in a day of ever-connectedness — that I can tweet from my TV but I can’t share a social TV-watching experience with my friend across town or across the world?

Apps such as Boxee begin to address this problem, but here’s my outline for the perfect social TV:

  • If I’m watching a show I like, I should be able to hit a button on the remote to share a short clip and a link to the channel on my social networks.
  • I should be able to see what my friends are watching if they opt in and have similar tastes.
  • I should be able to be notified (inconspicuously) if my friend thinks I should be watching something.
  • Trusted friends should be allowed to record programs on my TiVo.
  • I should be able to access my content by signing in on another person’s TV.

I think we’re getting there, but it’s time for TV manufacturers to embrace the social landscape and bring back the sense of community that came with watching TV together. For now, it’ll remain my own geeky dream.

For a counter-viewpoint, check out John Herrman’s “I Just Want a Dumb TV” on Gizmodo.

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