Altice Scores Social TV Patent

Altice USA has won a U.S. patent for a social networking system developed by a former top Cablevision Systems Corp. technology executive.

The invention could help Altice, which closed its $10 billion acquisition of Cablevision in June, allow subscribers to participate in video chats with friends “or other like-minded viewers” while watching TV.

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Inventor Jonathan Greenfield

Former Cablevision SVP of Technology Strategy Jonathan Greenfield is named as inventor on the patent, titled, “Virtual communal television viewing.” Former Cablevision subsidiary CSC Holdings is named as assignee on the patent, which was issued in late September.

Abstract: A social networking system enables cable television viewers to watch television programs as a virtual group, each watching within his/her own home, while simultaneously communicating with one another, for example, via voice and/or video chat. The system enables a viewer to find friends, or other like-minded viewers not acquainted with the viewer, for virtual communal viewing parties. The system can enable participants in a viewing party to synchronize viewing sessions enabling each participant to share in a common viewing experience. The system can also enable a system operator to recognize communal viewing groups and enable more effective advertisement targeting.

Patent

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Claims:

1. A method of providing synchronized viewing sessions, comprising: establishing a viewing party to view synchronized content, the viewing party including one or more viewers; providing content to set-top boxes (STBs) associated with each viewer in the viewing party, wherein the content is stored in digital video recorders (DVRs) corresponding to the STBs; and requesting each STB to provide to respective viewers of the viewing party the stored content at each corresponding DVR as synchronized content, wherein control of the synchronized content is provided to all viewers within the viewing party.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising allowing the one or more viewers to log into their personal accounts.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein a personal account is associated with active friends, private parties, and public parties.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising allowing the one or more viewers to locate other viewers that are accessing a channel or a program.

5. The method of claim 1, further comprising enabling voice communication between each viewer in the viewing party.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more viewers within the viewing party are allowed to control the synchronization of the content to each viewer according to an assigned priority.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the one or more viewers within the viewing party are allowed to control the synchronization of the content to each viewer in response to one of the following commands: ordering, pause, rewind, instant replay, skip back, fast forward, skip ahead, play or stop.

8. The method of claim 1, wherein the ored content from each DVR is precisely synchronized for all viewers by using a program clock reference.

9. The method of claim 1, further comprising selecting targeted advertisement for the one or more viewers within the viewing party.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising selecting targeted advertisement to each viewer in the viewing party based on one or more of viewing party characteristics, household characteristics, or viewer characteristics.

11. A system to provide a viewing party with synchronized viewing sessions, comprising: a network configured to allow one or more viewers to establish the viewing party to view synchronized content; a head end controller configured to: provide content to set-top boxes (STBs) associated with each viewer in the viewing party, wherein the content is stored in digital video recorders (DVRs) corresponding to the STBs, and request each STB to provide to respective viewers of the viewing party the stored content at each corresponding DVR as synchronized content, wherein control of the synchronized content is provided to all viewers within the viewing party; an advertisement server configured to select targeted advertisements to the viewing party; and a server configured to enable voice communication to each viewer in the viewing party.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein the network is further configured to allow the one or more viewers to log into their personal accounts.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the network is further configured to allow the one or more viewers to connect with active friends, private parties, and public parties.

14. The system of claim 11, wherein the network is further configured to allow the one or more viewers to locate other viewers that are tuned to a channel or a program.

15. The system of claim 11, wherein the head end controller is further configured to enable the one or more viewers within the viewing party to control the synchronization of the content to each viewer according to an assigned priority.

16. The system of claim 11, wherein the network is further configured to allow the one or more viewers within the viewing party to control the synchronization of the television content to each viewer in response to one of the following commands: ordering, pause, rewind, instant replay, skip back, fast forward, skip ahead, play or stop.

17. The system of claim 11, wherein the head end controller is further configured to precisely synchronize the stored content from each DVR for all viewers by using a program clock reference.

18. The system of claim 11, wherein the server is further configured to select the targeted advertisement for the one or more viewers within the viewing party.

19. The system of claim 11, wherein the server is further configured to select targeted advertisement to each viewer in the viewing party based on one or more of viewing party characteristics, household characteristics, or viewer characteristics.

20. A method of providing synchronized viewing sessions, comprising: establishing a viewing party that is viewing a channel or a program; allowing a viewer to locate other viewers that are tuned to the channel or the program and to join the viewing party; providing content to set-top boxes (STBs) associated with each viewer in the viewing party, wherein the content is stored in digital video recorders (DVRs) corresponding to the STBs; and requesting each STB to provide to respective viewers of the viewing party the stored content at each corresponding DVR as synchronized content, wherein control of the synchronized content is provided to all viewers within the viewing party.