I'm sure the boy who invented TV would be very proud of how far TV has come since the late 1940s. PHILO TV, the app and Web platform which launches today combines television with the power of social media to create an interactive user experience with real-time and multi-screen functionality. And it has that inventor to thank for it.
I'm surprised the Nielsen Ratings have not entertained a partnership alliance with this new app. If the application is able to scale to a significant critical mass, it should be able to determine the popularity of TV Shows better than the antiquated research firm that dates back to the 1950s. At least that is the premise the PHILO developers are banking on.
The app's name PHILO pays homage to Philo Taylor Farnsworth (1906 - 1971) who was credited for the early development of television. As a youth in 1922, Farnsworth first revealed his scientific discoveries for an all-electric television system early on. He later established an electronics laboratory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he succeeded in turning his dreams into reality by inventing the first receiving tube for television transmissions. Modern TV, based on Farnsworth's inventions was purchased by ITT in 1951.
According to the app description, PHILO TV allows you to determine what television shows are trending, what your friends are watching and even allows you to comment on the programming that appeals to you on Facebook and Twitter.
According to PHILO's hype, they intend to '"make TV social (again)," where the free app allows users to chat during the TV programs they are watching. Once tuned into a show, they can follow a stream of conversation and these status updates will actually include links for friends and followers to be able to view what users' are watching so they can join in remotely.
The developer also added interactive games a la Foursquare that lets users unlock prizes when they check-in to certain shows. For example, Foursquare-like badges are awarded when you watch a show like Seinfeld, where you can actually earn the "Art Vandelay" badge. For those that aren't die-hard Seinfeld fans, Art Vandelay is a real "inside bit of trivia." The name refers to a fictional character made up by George Constanza and Jerry in the episode "The Stake Out."
Greg GoldmanPHILO CCO Greg Goldman says more tangible rewards are also planned, such as exclusive content from production companies, and that shows like Undercover Boss and The Apprentice have also established relationships with PHILO.
"For the first time in 15 years, television ratings are up - and our research attributes those gains to the power of social media," said Goldman, going on to claim that PHILO will be the "most important thing to happen to television since the remote control."
So hats off to Farnsworth for bringing TV into our lives, and let's see if PHILO can make the TV viewers' experience "social" once again.
My only reservation lies with a Twitter feed that FoxTV tried last year called, "Tweet-peat." In an effort to attract a wider audience for a show's repeats, viewers were actually able to follow the cast and producers' tweets online 'live' via an online Twitter scroll. Unfortunately the experiment failed miserably - with the repeat episodes of Fringe and Glee - never to be tweet-peated again! The consensus from the public was that watching TV and tweeting was not compatible, and the distraction caused many to switch channels.