Television: no longer the lonely

After a week of trying I finally got hold of Sky Player on the Xbox at the weekend. The thing that caught my eye (other than the lack of watchable programming) is the option of watching shows with friends through Xbox Live: You can sit your avatar down with friends in front of a big screen and gesture and chat about the onscreen goings on to your heart’s content.

I think the viewing room is a great feature but also a big jump forward in the trend of television becoming a much more sociable pass time which has been taking place over the past few years thanks to big event programmes and the recent boom in box sets, which making the latest twist in Lost and who went out on X Factor key conversation on a Monday morning.

Twitter has added another dimension to this allowing anyone to instantly see the always hilarious often outraged reactions to shows like X Factor instantly and discuss performances, twists and sartorial choices with friends as they happen. Fox in the US has tried to harness Twitter with ‘tweet-peats’ in which fans and cast members tweet their way through episodes of Fringe and the Tweets appear onscreen. The-X-Factor-2009-Jedward-001

The Xbox Live viewing room is a step on from ‘tweet-peats’ allowing fans to get together and chat about the show they are watching, all they have to do is turn on their Sky Player.

As consoles increasingly move into the living room it seems clear television on demand through the console will proliferate and I think more viewing room type areas will begin to appear making television a much more social and interactive medium.

On top of the viewing room group screenings of cult shows like The Wire and Arrested Development (where apparently the audience often actually blue themselves)  have become common events and Box set clubs are becoming as prevalent as book clubs. I think these are symptoms of television quickly losing its image as a lonely pass time for fat men in stained underwear in favour of that of a sociable and interactive medium.

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