Hulu launches Social TV: Watching with friends will never be the same again

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Ben Parr @ Mashable just wrote a great piece about the launch of Social TV that allows friends on Facebook and MySpace to watch Hulu together using new Splashcast apps. These apps allow you to make micro-comments about a shows using your social network without those comments then showing up on your profile.

What’s cool is that this “chatter” is not done in real time but is synced to the video, so even if you watch it the next day, you still get the running commentary from your friends. So not only are your friends not there, they didn’t even have to watch it on the same day. The content itself is now the campfire around which you gather, rather than the medium like a TV in the past.

This is a fascinating prospect for two reasons. Firstly, it’s yet another example of the online world behavior flowing back to affect how we act in the real world. And the more terrestrial behavior is affected by online interaction, the more brands and content providers will cater to the needs and dynamics of social media.

Secondly, when you layer on the recent success of community networks generated around specific TV shows – such as Carri Bugbee’s, ‘Madmen’ promotion that won this year’s Shorty Award for best Twitter advertising campaign and just spawned the first Twitter ad agency – you realize how untapped and unlimited the potential is for co-ordinating with social media. As a (m)ad man myself wrestling daily with agencies needlessly agonizing over whether to engage with social media or not, these proof points will either serve as a wake up call or death knell for traditional advertisers.

On a broader level, the web is accelerating towards real-time efficiencies and content isn’t far behind. In shows like the single woman comedy, “My Two Fans”, characters come to life by Twittering to related sites and is being keenly watched by industry heavyweights, Sony, Lionsgate and NBC. The real-time dynamic that has begun with news will soon give birth to its own entertainment industry.

Consumers now control how they want to watch as much as they control what they want to buy, thanks to the transparency and access to information provided by the internet. While it may never replace TV altogether, “watching with friends” is now defined by how we choose to watch.

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