The one to watch: CBS Social Viewing Room

CBS Social Viewing Room.jpgTV-fatalists have long been saying that television is dying. And that’s mainly because of how quickly online and on demand programming is developing.But if you like cosying up in front of the box from time to time with friends, online is no substitute for the shared chatter, furious debate, laughter and, oh yes, tears provoked by the world on-screen.That is, until now.CBS Labs has created the online Social Viewing Room. You turn up to the site and watch fixed time programmes at the same time as whoever else is there – and comment as you watch. Whatever you say pops up along the bottom of the screen – so it’s a kind of chatroom with a film playing. A virtual cinema where you’re allowed to talk.It’s much more in line with the experience of watching TV with friends than most online programming. You can try it out here (although it seems at the time of writing that they’re having a bit of trouble getting everyone connected smoothly).It’s worth pointing out that (for the time being at least) there’s no registration necessary – a canny move to make involvement as easy and appealing as possible, and one that many online services overlook in the face of market research.This is an inventive way to try to lure people online and away from the familiarity of their living rooms. And it capitalises nicely on the most socially embracing aspect of the internet – its ability to draw together people from anywhere on the planet and get them talking.Whether it will be popular remains to be seen. It might just be another site for people who regularly use chatrooms and online viewing anyway, rather than appealing to those don’t normally watch online. Whatever happens, it’s an interesting new spin on viewing formats and might well be worth keeping an eye on.

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