Future of Entertainment: Introduction to Socially Curated Discovery

Future of Entertainment: Introduction to Socially Curated Discovery

The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at iq.intel.com, we are showcase new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and get reactions from Intel experts.

The Internet is huge and it’s growing at an incredible rate. According to Wired Magazine, in 2012 web users created over 2.8 zettabytes of new data (that’s nearly 3 billion gigabytes). That number represents everything from the emails you send to the photos you upload to Facebook. While this superabundance of data means that the Internet will probably always contain enough content to keep users entertained for a lifetime, that doesn’t mean much if you don’t know what it is that you want watch or listen to.

As we dig into our Future of Entertainment series, we’ll be looking at a trend we’re calling Socially Curated Discovery. With the web becoming more social, the way that we’re being served online and streaming content is changing – a new set of curation tools are helping us get outside of our content echo chambers by serving up new recommendations that reflect the consumption habits of the people within our social and interest graphs. According to a report from BI Intelligence, “for audiences, discovery is no longer about flipping through channels for a TV guide, it’s about listening to friends’ recommendations and glancing at social media feeds.“

Intel’s own futurist, Brian David Johnson agrees that the future of content recommendation is social saying, “This notion of ‘smarter’ televisions, that give us those recommendations, I think this is coming. I think we’re seeing it. I think the big shift that’s happened over the past five years has been our ability to get access to more content, more shows, than we’ve ever been able to do in the past.

Those algorithms are getting smarter. Those search algorithms are getting smarter. Even the really dumb algorithms are still smarter than the back of the TV guide. Now we’re going to the next step, where we’re going to the social graph and we’re pulling in stuff that other people are watching.”

 While cable companies have been teasing the idea of social integration for years, the rollout has been slow to come.

Online streaming platforms have picked up the social baton and have been letting us connect with our friends to share content for some time now. Beyond sharing, these platforms are beginning to automatically dish us up recommendations based on the people we associate with online, opening up an entirely new method for discovery. 

Online television and movie streaming platform Netflix recently added the ability for U.S. users to sync the video streaming service to their Facebook accounts, letting them share the content they’re watching with their friends and vice-versa. Users who opt into the social feature are given a new row in Netflix’s interface called Friends Favorites, which shows a list of titles to which their friends gave either 4 or 5 stars. Additionally, there are new rows called Watched By Your Friends that allow viewers to follow a specific friend(s) viewing to see what they most recently watched and how they rated it. Tom Willerer, Netflix’s vice president of product innovation says, “There are few better ways to find a movie or TV series you’ll love than hearing about it from your friends.”

The company has plans to expand their social offering further and have stated:

“The Netflix social features will evolve with new capabilities being tested regularly. Upcoming tests include capabilities to allow members to explicitly share their favorite titles on Facebook and discuss with their friends.”

image via uncrate

While Netflix started as a content provider who added a social element, another source flipped that model by adding a streaming music discovery service to their already wildly popular social service. Twitter Music is a platform that leverages the popular short-form social network to help users discover new tracks. The service goes beyond your immediate social circle, so you’re not just getting the songs your friends like, and ventures deep into your extended Twitter network to offer up trending singles and recommendations from the influencers and celebrities you follow. Using the website or the app, users can listen to a snippet of a track, while subscribers to the music streaming services Spotify or Rdio can hear the full song. The tile-like interface is intuitive, letting users tell which songs are currently popular within their network at a glance.

Garrett Camp, the CEO of StumbleUpon says that, “the difference between search and discovery is all in intent – I always need to know what I’m looking for when I search. But with discovery, we’re trying to produce a more surprising, serendipitous experience. I want to be surprised, I want to learn something and be educated and enlightened as I find stuff, and I don’t find that happens in search unless you do a lot of work. It takes work to find what you want – you have to know it exists and sometimes with new media, you don’t even know it exists yet. You have to hear about something before you can search for it and I think discovery will bring that to you. “

In the week ahead, the Future of Entertainment series will be taking a closer look at other examples that fit within the Socially Curated Discovery trend to look at the ways services are helping us unearth our new favorite movies and artists.

As we revisit the Perfect Channel theme in the coming weeks, we will show you examples of how developers are experimenting with advanced contextual awareness and even the reading of people’s brainwaves to create personalized entertainment experiences. Stay tuned to iQ by Intel and PSFK for daily updates to our Future of Entertainment series.