With tru2way-enabled set tops and various DOCSIS 3.0-enabled gadgetry soon to change content delivery forever, it’s good to know that the introverted engineers gathered in Philadelphia for SCTE’s Cable-Tec Expo are thinking about their social lives. Or at least your viewers’ social lives. In one of today’s technical sessions, Motorola’s customer solutions architect Roy Hasson urged operators to build next-generation TV apps that include a social networking component. “You don’t want to drive them away from TV just because they want to interact with their friends,” he said. Of course, we all know that the younger demo (the ones who advertisers love) are multitasking maniacs, content to sit in front of the TV with a laptop linked to 47 chat rooms and IM communities. Why not consolidate everything onto one screen? Sounds simple enough, but all of this raises many tough questions on the business side of the equation. What will be the role of advertising, including not only traditional banners, wraps and spots—but also more fully integrated product placements and “sponsorships”? Will people be able to interact with a virtual version of a show’s character (similar to the way TV producers create fake MySpace profiles for fictional characters in their shows)? And how will content owners and cable operators split any ad/sponsorship revenues that result? Hardly concerns for the engineers, though. Hasson and his colleagues just want to make sure the suits have plenty of options as they decide what features to include in those fancy new boxes. And as Hasson so optimistically puts it, “the future is bright.”

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