A view from Russell Davies, russell@russelldavies.com

Media Perspective: The social web and stats are paving the way for internet TV

Remember the internet fridge? It's an idea that pops up every now and then - an internet-connected fridge that can order food when you run low. It gets some PR headlines and then disappears because no- one can really see the point.

Internet TV has been, kind of, the same. Or enhanced TV. Or whatever you might want to call it. Basically, it normally means adding some internet to the big screen in your living room rather than adding some TV to your computer.

Every few years, a new version arrives and grabs a few headlines. And, just like the fridge, slips away without causing too much disruption. Apple TV is a good example.

A decent idea, nicely executed, but one that didn't set the world on fire like the iPhone. Or, the other week, we had Google TV, a big push to get the internet on your big screen with all sorts of illustrious partners such as Sony and Intel on board. Will it work? Or will it be another damp squib? I have no idea, but after years of scepticism, I think I'm beginning to see the point.

The first inklings of point struck me a few Eurovisions ago - it was the first Twitter Eurovision - when it became clear how much broadcast telly could be enhanced by the social web. I was further convinced by the various applications people have built to bring social webbiness to interactions around TV. My favourite being the Apprentice Predictor, a way you could play along with the BBC's Apprentice - placing bets on who you thought was going to win.

But I got really convinced when I read a great post at redmonk.com by James Governor. He made two fascinating points.

One: sport is the ultimate battering ram for TV (a phrase, not surprisingly, coined by Rupert Murdoch to describe how he's used sport around the world to build paid-for TV subscriptions).

Two: sport loves data. Most of the world's favourite sports throw off more data than CERN; infinite streams of facts and stats, all endlessly fascinating to someone. These stats have found their natural home on the web and increasingly on mobile apps, where they can enhance viewing, conversation and pub-boringness.

Bringing the streams of data and analysis to the telly, integrated with the pictures on the big screen in the corner, but properly interactive, like an iPad - that would be a true battering ram product. Have a look at Adidas' Match Tracker to see the way data can illuminate even a supposedly data-lite sport such as football. Or look at Umbro's Terrace Tweets to see the way online sport conversation can be translated into fun, interactive gubbins. And then throw out your internet fridge to make room for your internet TV.

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