Comcast looks at integrating social TV elements to mobile apps

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is looking at how to integrate social TV elements into apps it has built for Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iOS and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android mobile devices. The cable MSO has developed technology that would allow subscribers to use mobile applications to chat about programs they are watching with friends via Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, and to quickly change channels based on content recommended by friends, according to a patent application it filed for an "intelligent remote control."

comcast social remote

Comcast's social remote

While Comcast has already built Xfinity Mobile apps for iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets, the company hasn't yet integrated social TV functions into those apps. But the MSO recently added one social function to its mobile apps, letting Xfinity subscribers send text messages to friends through the Xfinity Mobile app.

The patent filing shows how Comcast may be able to boost ad revenue by integrating social TV elements into its mobile video apps. "Social networking options may be provided to the user in connection with the program the user is watching. Usage data can also be collected at the application server, and used to provide targeted information (e.g., advertisements, television show recommendations, etc.) to the user based on demographic information," Comcast wrote in the patent application.

The patent filing details how Comcast subscribers may be able to create lists of friends, or "buddies," and keep track of the viewing activity of friends that are logged in to its social TV platform with mobile devices. "Selecting or highlighting a listed friend may cause additional options to appear, such as options to send the friend a message, or invite the friend to join in watching the currently-viewed program. Sending this kind of request may involve, for example, delivering a pop-up message to the friend's consumption device," Comcast wrote in the patent, citing cable set-tops, DVRs, gateway devices and computers as examples of consumption devices.

While Comcast has said that it is using its Augusta, Ga., system to test social TV and other advanced applications, the MSO hasn't said when it will add social TV options to its Xfinity TV digital cable service. Comcast officials declined to comment on the patent filing.

Several engineers from Comcast and Comcast Media Center are listed as inventors on the patent, including Michael McMahon, Donald Dischner, Jamesheed Batmanglidj, James Capps and Joshua Seiden.

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