Facebook Pitches Social TV

Creating program guides based on what friends watch

Facebook has a message for the television world: social TV is coming. Andy Mitchell, SVP of Strategic Partner Development at Facebook, pitched a crowd of media and branding honchos at the PromaxBDA conference on Wednesday on the various ways in which he thinks his company can help the broadcast media embrace the social world. An obvious starting point was program filtering. “If you look at the program guide [as it stands now], you’re trying to figure out what to watch among five hundred channels. It’s really hard,” Mitchell said. “But think about a program guide where you see what your friends are watching, that changes the experience. ”

That’s not just a Facebook idea. A few weeks ago at the Cable Show in Chicago, Comcast unveiled the next generation of its Xfinity TV product, which featured exactly what Mitchell described – a program guide based on what shows are trending among Facebook friends.

The bottom line, in Mitchell’s opinion, is that social media (and, of course, Facebook in particular) are poised to change the way we watch TV—not just in terms of how we find our content, but in terms of the way we connect to one another around that content. And this, in Mitchell’s mind, offers an opportunity for programmers to court new viewers. “I think the real opportunity is creating a [TV] experience in which one or two or three of your friends share [their] viewing experiences,” he said which “get[s] people to become recruiters for your show.”