Cablevision develops 'virtual communal television viewing' technology
Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) is developing social TV technology that could allow subscribers to talk to each other via voice or video chats while watching programming, according to a recent patent application.
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"The system enables a viewer to find friends, or other like-minded viewers not acquainted with the viewer, for virtual communal viewing parties," Cablevision states in the patent application, which is titled "Virtual Communal Television Viewing."
Cablevision, which was one of the first cable operators to deliver interactive programming and advertising to subscribers, describes how subscribers would be able to access the social TV platform via multiple devices, including cable set-tops, gaming consoles, smartphones and tablet computers. The MSO details how subscribers donning headsets may be able to chat with each other by relying on Bluetooth and WiFi technology.
The patent also explains how subscribers may be able to invite friends and neighbors to join them in virtual viewing parties. "The users may watch television content as a virtual group in the social networking system. Each user may watch television content in the user's own home, while simultaneously communicating with other users via voice and/or video conference/chat. This virtual communal television watching and discussion session is called a viewing party," Cablevision writes in the patent application, which was published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Cablevision may be able to use the communal viewing parties to drive increased ad revenue. The MSO notes in the patent application that bar owners may be able to target ads to subscribers that create viewing parties. "The tavern may specifically want to target adult users of viewing parties formed in the evening... Advertisements from the tavern may induce the virtual viewing party to meet in person at the tavern," Cablevision writes.
Cablevision SVP of strategic product advancement Jonathan Greenfield is named as the inventor on the patent application.
Last month, Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan said the company had identified 18 new products and customer initiatives that it was focused on implementing. It's not clear if the communal viewing product is one of those initiatives that Dolan has prioritized. Officials at Cablevision didn't respond to a request for comment on Friday.
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