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Social TV Viewing vs. Streaming and DVR Services

Should we be returning to the living room?

Internet television concept

During the days of its inception, television was a great way to get people together. It was a form of entertainment people could gather around while socializing about life, the weather and, of course, what was on TV. Live broadcasts of new episodes reinforced the compulsion to be in front of that television right when the show came on, and many people scheduled their lives based around the TV.

Then, the advent of streaming services and DVR devices occurred. Suddenly, no one needed to catch the premiere of the latest episode. Hulu Plus could show you the latest episode of a current series the day after and HD DVRs could record and store these episodes for later viewing.

With streaming and DVR, viewers could watch the shows they wanted to watch when they wanted to watch them. People no longer needed to organize their lives around TV schedules and the social element of physically sitting around the TV was all but lost.

As more and more people were put in control of their programming, the television industry was losing ratings. The solution came in the form of Social TV – a way of promoting good old-fashioned viewership through the use of unique and integrated experiences. Today, Social TV continues to gain momentum, but is it truly superior to the convenience offered by streaming services?

The Freedom to Stream

Whether you stream through the likes of Netflix and Hulu Plus or you do it through HD DVRs offered by service providers, streaming is all about the freedom. It’s about having the freedom to go about your days and nights without having to worry about making it home in time for a new episode.

Netflix has a sprawling archive of shows and movies and, when it comes to shows, typically carries current and ongoing programs (although, usually, a season behind). Hulu Plus, on the other hand, generally carries current shows and allows streaming of the latest episode as early as a day after the initial broadcast.

HD DVRs are also very popular for the freedom and convenience of being able to record a new episode and watch it at your leisure. These and the myriad streaming services mentioned earlier all beg the question why you would ever want to return to the living room.

Gathering around the TV

Social TV is less of a lateral move than previously indicated with the promise of unique, immersive and interactive viewing experiences. Whether it’s the free advertising and community-building practice of Twitter hashtags, or the “second screen” real-time experience – Social TV is making a strong case to sit down in front of the TV.

The social element of TV-watching from the good old days enhanced and broadened with the inclusion of social media outlets. Now, it’s easier than ever for people to fire up the tablet and participate in snap polls during an episode of The Walking Dead or get behind-the-scenes videos during a broadcast that latecomers just can’t get by playing catch-up.

To Stream or Not to Stream…

If television is more of a social thing for you, and you just have to talk to someone you know about an episode you just saw, Social TV is the way to go. It takes the addictive qualities of social media and uses them to draw viewers back to the TV for live episodes. Of course, there will never be a substitute for having the kind of control and freedom from a streaming service or a DVR. However, Social TV is proving that television can be more than a spectator sport…