Comcast testing personalized social TV experience

By Cory Bergman Comment

At the Cable Show earlier this year, Comcast demonstrated a new cloud-powered, Xfinity TV experience that featured personalized programming recommendations, integrated search and Facebook integration.

In a presentation at the TVOT conference, Comcast’s Brian Curtis gave a bit of an update on the ongoing product trial — called Project Xcalibur — in Augusta, GA. The idea is to detect viewing patterns at different times during the day — such as Sesame Street every morning — to recommend similar shows to watch. It will also recommend shows that are similar to ones you’re watching.

Curtis said they’re working with the check-in app Tunerfish (which Comcast acquired in 2008) on the social TV experience. Tunerfish created the Facebook app for Project Xcalibur which lets viewers “like” and share recommendations (screen grab above from the Cable Show.) Comcast says it’s also testing “Friends Trends,” which recommends the most-shared shows among your Facebook friends.

In my book, all these additions are long overdue for cable companies, and a much-needed addition to the linear, confusing program guides on millions of set-top boxes across the country. It will also be a boost for Facebook: while millions of people have “liked” TV shows, those likes tend to lag what’s bubbling up right now. Encouraging a huge group of TV viewers to “like” current shows will make Facebook’s recommendations more timely (currently the domain of Twitter), as well as open the door to wider Facebook integration in program guides on other cable and satellite set-tops.

Comcast says the experience will launch something in 2012.