Facebook is now a TV guide. Or, at least, if you’re using its Android app, you can now set reminders for upcoming episodes of TV shows in the U.S., on participating TV show Facebook Pages. A new version of the Android app rolls out these reminders, which seems a very obvious attempt to get members of its network to engage with and discuss broadcast TV content on Facebook as it’s happening in real-time.
If you’re thinking that sounds familiar, you’d be right: Twitter has been aggressive in capitalizing on its role as a companion for live broadcast television. It’s partnering direct with TV content providers for things like a trending TV content box, a relationship with broadcasters that allows users to see snippets of live TV directly in their stream, and a Comcast partnership that triggers DVR and other activity.
Twitter, which has priced its IPO and is listing publicly on the NYSE today, makes no secret of its television and live broadcast ambitions – Deb Roy, who came to Twitter through the acquisition of Bluefin Labs, argues that Twitter has an opportunity to become the social glue that binds disparate viewers around televised and other content, a connection which was lost when we started engaging in more time-shifted viewing.
Facebook has been building TV partnerships, too. It recently enabled real-time conversation analysis for Dancing With The Stars, providing stats and information which was broadcast live on air, and it’s running Q&A’s with celebrities and shows, as well as employing hashtags and trending topics to, like Twitter, identify the content people on its network are most interested in. This new reminders feature seems to be another element in its overarching media strategy.
A reminder of a live broadcast from Facebook does one thing: calls your attention to the social network exactly when Facebook wants you to be using it. Twitter doesn’t yet have anything that quite so blatantly invites users to participate in real-time online discussion specifically and automatically, but it also arguably doesn’t need that because of the tendency of its users to do that organically, anyway.
Facebook wants to be a media property, and it wants to be real-time. It’s taking steps in that direction, but it’s also hard to say what its chances are of competing with Twitter on that scale. In either case, watching how each evolves as they pursue that goal will prove interesting, as will seeing how users react to their shifting identities.