There seems to be a lot in the news (or at least the news I read) that has something to do with the idea of communal viewing.
The most obvious example of this is everyone sitting around the TV in the living room. That image of the perfect American family lit by the warm glow of the one TV in the house is one that is burned into my own image bank.
Of course, today there is a screen everywhere and that means everyone can go watch whatever they want and screw family time. The explosion of cable and the niche shows that came along with it enforced this behavior making it even less likely that all members of a household could find a common show to hold their attention for an hour.
The success of American Idol is largely due to its ability to engage a wide demographic but it is very much an exception to the rule.
The growth of web video has only increased our tendancy to view alone (and not just porn).
In the wake of all this alone time a number of services are popping up to allow folks in different locations to watch videos on the web simultaneously while participating in chat of one kind or another.
This isn’t entirely new as a number of TV shows have live chat rooms that run simultaneous to their airing but allowing groups to assemble on their on schedule for a similar experience is kind of neat.
I’ve already discussed the indie end of this spectrum with SeeToo and some of the larger efforts like NBC’s Viewing Party. Now comes the Lycos effort with their revamp of LycosCinema.
According to ArsTech they’ve definitely put the spotlight on communal aspects of the site:
“Other significant new features in today’s major revamp of Lycos Cinema focus on the social and chatting experiences. A new lobby chat area can accommodate thousands of movie fans if you aren’t quite in the mood to start watching something yet. Movies can now be scheduled for a later date, complete with friend invites and notifications for when shows are about to start. Movies can be watched in private, with a select group of friends, or publicly (the default) by sharing a URL that any Lycos Cinema user can click to immediately join.”
Seems pretty cool if IM’ing with friends while you watch a movie is something you really want to do. I’m not totally convinced that this is meeting a desperate need.
With SeeToo, the idea of watching personal videos with friends and family immediately struck a chord so maybe there is overlap. Time will tell.
In tangentially related Communal Viewing news, I like the idea of the upcoming Pangea Day (via PSFK)
“On May 10th, millions of people worldwide will watch the same short films at the same time. Via thousands of locally organized events, the organizers hope to remind watchers what we all have in common.
6 cities will broadcast live footage of 24 short films in 8 languages. Those in Cairo, Kigali, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro can check out the events’ headquarters. The estimated 4hr long cinematic debut will also include top speakers and musical performers: Queen Noor of Jordan, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, musician/activist Bob Geldof, Iranian rock phenom Hypernova and others.”