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January 23, 2012
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Myspace unveils SocTV and second-screen sync

Myspace will be one of the first major youth ‘entertainment’ brands to enter the emerging market for social TV apps this year when MySpace TV becomes available on Panasonic VIERA Connect (connected) televisions, planned for Q2 (starting in North America and Europe). The company has ambitious plans to establish the service around music television before expanding into other genres including sports. Besides the connected TV app there will be a companion app (for tablets and smartphones), providing instant sync capabilities, though the release date for that has not been announced. The whole service will be advertising supported. Myspace TV is in discussion with other device manufacturers and says it wants to get on as many devices as possible, covering connected TVs, dedicated media players, Blu-ray players and video game consoles.

During a demo at CES in Las Vegas, on a Panasonic VIERA television, the company was keen to emphasise that on launching the app you go directly into video, replicating the traditional TV model. Consumers could pre-set which ‘channel’ they access automatically. For the purposes of the demonstration the company focused on music and Myspace clearly wants to become what MTV used to be, with a never-ending supply of music videos, only this time accompanied by a rich social element covering anything from live chat to insights into what your friends are watching and what is ‘trending’ more generally. Users will be able to vote for the next song that should be played, for example.

Second screen synchronisation is viewed as an important opportunity for Myspace TV. The app being demonstrated on the Panasonic stand used high resolution audio fingerprinting technology from Audible Magic to recognise music that was playing over the TV set, making it possible to provide richer information on the companion device about the recording artist, with that information being provided by Myspace. Details included artist profile, music, photos, videos, shows and blogs. The app directed the device browser to the relevant MySpace Music artist pages.

Also using the audio fingerprinting, the app triggered the display of additional information on the companion screen about products that were being advertised on TV. In the CES demo, Panasonic ads screened on the VIERA set were recognised by the companion tablet, which then displayed more detailed information about Panasonic’s range of VIERA connected TV sets. The Audible Magic technology allows the reference database of fingerprints for this kind of second screen experience to be hosted remotely in the cloud or locally within the app itself on the companion device.

Overall, there will be a focus on content discovery and sharing with Myspace TV. Consumers can create their own ‘mixtapes’, or personal playlists, at the Myspace website and these will appear within the connected TV app. The company will be looking to offer celebrity mixtapes too. And while the first channels on Myspace TV will be music-focused, leveraging the company’s existing music rights and a library of 100,000 music videos and 42 million songs, news and reality channels are expected to follow. The company is actually promising a growing line-up of “the most popular broadcast and on-demand content”.

“Myspace TV is the realisation of something we have been focused on since we acquired the company from News Corp,” Tim Vanderhook, the company’s CEO declared at a press conference. “This is an over-the-top social TV service that brings a totally new dimension to TV.” He emphasised that this is not web video but television, “with all the great content on TV today but enhanced tremendously with the addition of a social layer. You have the ability to watch TV with friends and chat with them in real-time and see what television is trending. Nobody has been able to get this in into an integrated package until now.”

Co-owner Justin Timberlake declared: “You no longer have to crowd around the same TV to experience it together. And this is an opportunity to connect your friends to your moments as they are actually occurring.” He said Myspace is ready to take television and entertainment to the next step “by upgrading it to the social networking experience”.

Myspace is inviting entertainment fans to be considered for the beta launch of its TV service through a fully integrated experience on laptop devices. You can find out more here: http://www.myspace.com/tv.

Meanwhile at CES, Panasonic announced Split Screen, a social TV feature that allows users to simultaneously launch Skype and video chat with friends while watching TV on a VIERA HDTV. Users can also access Facebook and Twitter while watching TV.