At SplashCast, we pioneered a concept that we called “SocialTV” (I actually believe we coined the term for what it’s worth).
Well over two years ago, we created Facebook apps with social features focused on over 20 popular television shows. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld covered the product: Online TV Social, It Is All About The Chatter.
Splashcast Media, which has created apps for about 20 different TV shows, two weeks ago introduced a new feature called Chatter into its embedded video players. For instance on Facebook it has apps for The Simpsons, The Office, Family Guy, and more. Once you install each app, you can watch episodes of the show, many of them streamed through Hulu. SplashCast tells me that it is getting about 7 million monthly video views from one million unique viewers across all of its apps, with Hulu videos being the fastest growing proportion of that.
The Chatter feature lets you have conversations both synchronously and asynchronously. You can invite your friends to watch with you and you can all chat on the side, or you can see what other Facebook members previously said about the show at the exact points in the video stream when they said it. Most of the comments are pretty mindless, as you’d expect, but it makes watching more fun.
It also makes online TV more engaging. SplashCast found that adding chat to TV on the Web keeps people’s attention longer. In the two weeks since it introduced the Chatter feature, SplashCast has found that viewing time has gone up 50 percent to an average of 14 minutes, and the number of viewers who watch a video all the way through to the end has gone up 42 percent. That is probably because they are not watching, but reading what people are saying, and it is also probably why SplashCast throws ads into the conversation stream.
Although we were gaining audience and advertiser traction, we closed shop. The fundraising environment was, well, kinda tough back then [understatement]. We have other excuses too :)
I was excited to see the announcement yesterday that Hulu would be launching very similar applications on Facebook. See coverage here in TechCrunch: Social TV Just Got Real With Hulu on Facebook. In all major respects, we built the same thing.
[V]ideos you watch on Hulu are automatically shared with friends (approval is needed, thankfully). What’s more, according to Hulu’s blog entry today, the Facehulu app will give you a comprehensive glimpse into what your friends are watching, in realtime, and allow viewers to spark conversations with each other about what shows they’re watching and how bad the new season of House is.
The coolest part? As you’re watching Hulu content, be it a full show, clip, or film, you can leave comments on particular moments within the video. Oh yes. SoundCloud-style. And, naturally, once you leave a comment on a particular moment, you can then blast it out to friends to let them know how clever you are — on both Hulu and Facebook.
That’s describes 95% of what we built back in the day at SplashCast. Being right but early, and having $2, gets you a cup of coffee (but it does feel good).