Starling social networking flies on to TVs everywhere -

A start-up called Starling, aims to unite broadcast TV shows with social networking. This September [2010] the company aims to launch apps that will enable TV viewers to participate in group conversations via their mobile phones or via laptops over the web.

The objective is to sell the system to broadcasters as a means of tapping into social media – even to the extent of enabling audiences' comments to be integrated into the show.

Starling hopes to replicate what already happens on leading social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The attraction is that Starling hopes to put all of these disparate comments in one place.

The hope is that TV production companies and broadcasters will buy into Starling not only because of the live analytics it will provide but also because it offers the chance to funnel advertisers social media spend into their coffers, too.

One aim with Starling is to provide a single means for TV audiences to interact with live shows. Currently, virtually every show employs its own format for audience participation: - text us on this number; find us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter, etc.

If Starling manages to catch on, it will prove to be a very powerful tool. The objective is to encourage all your mates to join up and log on simultaneously. That way you'll be able to see – from comments being left – which are the 'hottest' programmes at the time.

Starling has produced some interesting research to show that 59 per cent of US viewers are online when they watch TV while around 90 per cent of UK viewers are using their phone while watching TV. That probably means texting or surfing as well as talking, of course!

The new Starling system is being showcased to the broadcast industry at the MIPTV show in Cannes today. [Notice how the TV guys haven't been stupid enough to move their shindig to Barcelona instead!]

Without being able to test the app, it's hard to say if it will prove attractive enough to lure surfers away from the social networks they already know and love. But there's a good chance that Starling could happily co-exist with its rivals.