Comcast to debut social networking site for TV viewers

Comcast's new social networking service allows users to let others know what they are watching

In about two weeks, US cable company Comcast will debut a beta of a social networking service that allows participants to let the world know what they are watching on TV and the Internet.

John McCrea, Plaxo vice president of marketing, offered a quick peak at the service at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, being held this week in New York.

"People are really passionate about their favorite TV shows, and eager to share that passion with others," McCrea said.

The service, called Tunerfish, was developed by online address book provider Plaxo, which Comcast acquired in 2008.

With Tunerfish, participants can post that they are watching, or have watched, a particular television show or Internet video, a tidbit that is then shared with other users. Shows can be called up by a search interface.

The service also factors this user input into ongoing lists of the most popular shows, and shows that are quickly gaining popularity among Tunerfish users. "The trending data makes it easy to see what is rising or falling in popularity amongst your friends right now, in the last 24 hours, or in the last seven days," McCrea said.

The Web-based interface is similar to social networking sites for music sharing, such as Last.fm and Blip.fm, that present a ever-updating stream of content that people are recommending. Also like those sites, you can actually share the content itself, at least with some material. In addition to offering the ability to offer a nod-of-approval for a television show, the service also allows individuals to post in links to, or even embed if allowed, Internet video, from sites such as YouTube, Vimeo and Hulu.

In his brief presentation, McCrea did not specify a time when the service would go live for all users.

The service will be available for the Web and for the iPhone and iPad, with a version for television forthcoming. Users can import their friend lists in from Twitter and Facebook, as well as export their shares to their associates on these services. The service will offer application programming interfaces so that other social networking sites can tap into the user-generated content as well, McCrea said.

Based in Philadelphia, Pa, Comcast has about 23.5 million cable customers and about 16.3 million high-speed Internet customers.

IDG News Service reporter Joab Jackson can be reached at joab_jackson@idg.com or via Twitter at @joab_jackson.

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