Socialite TV

9:30 AM -- SAN FRANCISCO -- TV of Tomorrow 2009 -- Top execs at thePlatform Inc. and Plaxo Inc. dropped some hints here Tuesday about how the technologies of the two companies, now both part of the Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) empire, will be stitched together in the not-so-distant future.

What's becoming more and more obvious, of course, is that thePlatform will connect its video publishing capabilities with the Plaxo social network. That, in turn, will allow consumers not only to view premium content, but to share it with friends and tap into a system that can make recommendations based on a person's likes and interests. The expected result: increased viewing and a preservation of TV advertising business models.

Not that it was all that obvious from the start. Ian Blaine, the CEO of thePlatform (and yesterday's keynoter here), admits that Comcast's purchase of Plaxo last year "sounded odd at first" to some people. (See Comcast Connects With Plaxo.)

It probably doesn't sound quite as outlandish these days, particularly after MSOs like Comcast and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) move ahead with plans to complement their traditional video subscription services with more Web-fed content in an attempt to head off so-called "cord-cutters" at the pass. (See Cable Web TV: Results May Vary , Cable-Led Web TV Deals Still Forming, and 'Cord-Cutting' No Threat.)

While much of this early work will involve PCs and other broadband-connected devices, thePlatform and Plaxo are also looking to bring this social experience to set-tops and the regular TV environment… eventually.

That plan also includes linking Plaxo's social network to other social networks using OpenID and other systems that simplify things by eliminating the need for consumers to use different usernames and passwords for every site they visit, according to Joseph Smarr, Plaxo's chief platform architect.

But to make this work, Blaine said that studios and other purveyors of premium video content must be careful not to put a muzzle on their best stuff. Instead, he's pushing a "long leash" model that allows content to flow to a lot of places, but exerts enough control on it so studios and programmers can maintain their brands and support new distribution methods with advertising.

"If we do that well, I think we're setting us up for some interesting times," Blaine said. If not, "it will be tough putting that toothpaste back in the tube."

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Contentonomics, a one-day conference covering digital content development, management, delivery, and monetization, to be staged in New York, June 17. For more information, or to register, click here.

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