A screenshot from IMN Systems' Simul TV concept.
May 31 2012

Social TV: The Next Startup Dream?

Social media has revolutionized the web, and startup companies aim to leverage its power to change the way we watch TV.

The days of television being strictly a lean-back experience are numbered.

That’s because networks, startup companies and TV manufacturers are hard at work trying to turn viewers into social animals rather than lone-wolf couch potatoes. And these businesses already made significant progress, even with today’s limited social media integration with TV.

Mark Ghuneim, CEO and founder of Wiredset and Trendrr, recently said social activity during TV’s prime time has increased by 193% since last year, according to an AdAge article.

Currently, most consumers are socializing their viewing experience by logging onto social networks through a notebook, tablet or smartphone while watching TV. According to recent Nielsen data, 88 percent of U.S. tablet owners use their device while watching TV; 86 percent of U.S. smartphone owners said the same.

But the hottest mission in social TV is around optimizing TV in such a way that it becomes a social networking device in its own right.

To that end, there are plenty of startup companies trying their hand at revolutionizing the way we watch TV.

Flingo is one company that’s gained buzz and traction in the space. The company builds social TV apps for top-tier clients like FOX, CBS, TV Guide and TMZ. And it recently secured $7 million in funding with famous startup entrepreneur Mark Cuban joining in the round.

Ashwin Navin, Flingo’s CEO and co-founder, explained his vision for social TV in an interview with Lost Remote:

"With deep Facebook and Twitter integration, we enable you to evangelize your favorite TV moments among your friends, and also very quickly discover what your friends think is cool. All of this will happen within your TV and [be] made accessible with a few clicks of your remote control," he said.

One intriguing new startup entering the social TV arena is Interconnect Media Network (IMN) Systems. The company is set to unveil its Simul TV product at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York in June. Simul TV will allow users to simultaneously share streaming content while communicating through picture-in-picture video chats as well as voice and text communications, according to a company press release.

“Simul TV is about bringing people together through social TV technology,” said IMN CEO and founder Steven Turner. “We want to connect fans of all types of entertainment. This goes beyond just tweeting about a show; viewers can watch it with someone halfway across the world. They can actively share the same experience even if they have never met face to face.”

In short, if you thought we’d reached the peak of social TV because networks now regularly broadcast Twitter hashtags, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.