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Trakt, scrobbling, and the end of the manual check-in

Last.fm revolutionized the music industry with the concept of scrobbling. Trakt hopes to do the same for TV and movies. What exactly is scrobbling? As trakt  Cofounder and Head of Business Development Jimmy Douglas explains, “scrobbling is when a media center automatically recognizes what you’re playing and adds a record to a service such as trakt (TV and movies) or Last.fm (music). In the context of social TV, it can be likened to ‘checking in’, but it happens automatically as you watch the program.”

The information being captured by services like trakt certainly has far-reaching implications for social TV. Users can easily track the shows and movies they’ve watched without the added step of having to check-in manually, and networks and analytics companies can capture very useful and accurate data about viewing habits. We interviewed Douglas about scrobbling and its effect on social TV.

Lost Remote: What’s scrobbling and how is it important to social TV?
Jimmy Douglas:
 Scrobbling is when a media center automatically recognizes what you’re playing and adds a record to a service such as trakt (TV and movies) or Last.fm (music). In the context of social TV, it can be likened to “checking in”, but it happens automatically as you watch the program. Scrobbling is important to social TV for a couple of reasons. First of all it is automated and does not require that users take an additional step to check-in. This makes a big difference in the quality of data we collect compared to services that might see engagement drop off over time, or have gaps when users either neglect or forget to check in. Secondly, it provides insight to the living rooms of those who watch TV at their own convenience rather than the regular programming schedule. Thanks to our real-time data, we can tell you what TV shows are popular right this moment among users who use media centers, which is otherwise impossible.

LR: How do you work with Boxee and other partners?
Douglas: In the Boxee example, members of the community actually developed the integration themselves so they could scrobble to trakt while watching TV on their Boxee box. Our API is open to allow users to build their own experience around trakt as a platform and we have been delighted to see how people have put it to work. Companies like FireCore and Warner Bros. (Australia) have found ways to integrate trakt natively with their user experience. Others such as Boxee and Plex have been integrated thanks to the hands of the community.

LR: What does trakt do and how does the technology work?
Douglas: trakt is a platform for TV and movie enthusiasts that brings familiar functionality such as discovery, analytics and social engagement to the living room by automatically keeping track of what users watch, and providing a brilliant web interface to engage. If you’re watching TV on a media center or HTPC, you can enable scrobbling, which populates your trakt account with a history of everything you watch. From there you can log onto trakt.tv and receive recommendations, participate in conversations, see what shows are currently trending around the world and more.

LR: Anything else?
Douglas: trakt will continue to grow thanks to the amazing, tangible support we have received from the community in the form of integration projects, mobile applications and user experiences built around the platform.

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