Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Viacom Revolutionizing TV Again -- Nick's "ME:TV" & MTV's "TRL" Use SightSpeed to Bring True Viewer Interactivity to TV

Viacom -- long known for being innovators in television programming (think MTV and how MTV revolutionized not only television, but also the overall music business) -- is at it again in. This time, however, they are bringing viewers from around the country directly into the show ... live and in color!

How do they do it? Well, I am very pleased to say that SightSpeed helps to make it all possible. Both Nickelodeon's new show "ME:TV" and MTV's long-running show "Total Request Live" (or "TRL", for all those in the know) invite viewers from around the country to interact live on the air via web cam using SightSpeed. Check out Wikipedia's discussion of "ME:TV" and SightSpeed's role in making it all possible -- "Nick uses the free video chat program SightSpeed to get the users' videos."

Both "ME:TV" and "TRL" have used web cam walls -- i.e., a wall of screens with multiple live web cam feeds from around the country all interacting live with the shows' hosts and guests (as well as with the studio audience). In fact, check out the application Nick uses with viewers to be a "Web Wall Kid." And, check out Nick's web wall itself. Viacom's shows also have used SightSpeed and these live web cam feeds for one-to-one interviews not only with viewers, but also with some of the biggest stars in the world (Fergie was just one recent example on TRL live via web cam from Europe).

How cool is that? If you can't travel to Nick or MTV to be part of the studio audience, you still can be part of the studio audience ... and more ... you can be featured live on the air and be discovered! Now THIS is real interactive TV -- breaking down the barriers between viewers and the media, thereby making the television experience significantly "stickier" -- which is ever more important in these times when overall viewership is on a significant decline.

Hey, isn't "stickiness" a web concept? Well, it's not just for the Internet anymore ... and, this new revolution led again by Viacom is just in its early innings. In fact, MTV is reported to be in the process of changing the name of "TRL" to "YouRL" (in the words of Broadcasting & Cable Magazine, "YouRL invokes the Internet and fits the current trend of stressing personalization in naming digital projects.")