At the MIPTV show in Cannes, Kevin Slavin – the creator of the Parking Wars Facebook game – recently introduced Starling, an innovative two-screen social TV platform. The new platform is meant for use on mobile devices, tablet computers and the web, and is scheduled to launch in September and be free of charge. It allows players to chat, play and interact with one another while watching a TV show.
Users will be able to leave comments, play games with one another, talk to other fans of the show, and it will all be live as the show is going on. This turns watching your favorite show into a very social activity, and the tool can be used within your personal circle of friends or can be opened up to chat with the larger audience. The idea is something I’ve been looking for, for a while. Facebook has taken a few steps to get there, but it’s funny that we still have these difficult interfaces or have to leverage Facebook Status Updates to easily get our messages about the show across to friends. People use Twitter for this purpose, but using hashtags and constantly scanning is not necessarily the easiest way to discuss a show with friends.
Starling revealed that the software will use a sorting algorithm to make sure that popular comments are shown at the top, and viewers get to vote on comments and there is a global scoring comments. This could also be used by shows itself to see what their audience is saying at the time. This is a very ambitious project and by directing it specifically at TV and releasing it as a free application, this just may work.
Kevin Slavin, the founder of Starling is also the founder of area/code, a social gaming company that developed one of the first viral hit social games, Parking Wars. area/code created the game for A&E based on their popular television series, and the game soared to hundreds of thousands of daily active users and was one of the first sponsored popular social games. They have moved on to focus on creating social games that leverage reality in some way; they call these “Big Games”. The goal of these games are that they “spill out over the edges of our screens and devices to blend with the real world in new and surprising ways.”