Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

The Social TV Gold Rush Is Smaller Than You Think

What happens when your TV and your Internet merge? No one knows exactly what that will look like, but it’s easy enough to assume a bunch of new businesses will be created.

Hence a rush of investment into “social TV,” which right now is a catchall euphemism for “things that let you tell your friends what you’re watching” and “things that measure what you’re watching and talking about.”

Twitter and Facebook, which already do a lot of this, seem like they’re already best-positioned to win this one. But lots of people are trying to get in on it, anyway.

Anne-Marie Roussel, who heads up social TV stuff for Sharp, has started tracking investment in the sector over at her personal blog. I added a few numbers of my own — (CBS, for instance, acquired Clicker for around $100 million) — and ended up with some $270 million.

That number is still probably lower than the total dollars sunk so far — I assume Robert Sillerman’s Function(x)/Viggle, for instance, has a good chunk of money behind it — but it actually strikes me as fairly modest.

Even if you assume that most of this stuff fizzles, it seems like the chance to create a next-generation TV Guide, or a next-generation Nielsen ratings service, would inspire entrepreneurs and check-writers to be even more aggressive.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work