Finding Love From Your Couch, or Failing to

A British tech blog is reporting that Match.com is making its services available on select TVs starting this month through a special DVR being sold by U.K. telecom provider BT (seen below). Which begs the question: why would you want to use Match.com on your TV?

BT Vision-V box

Ever since the days of Microsoft's Web TV back in the mid-90s, engineers have been trying and failing to get people to use the Web on their televisions. Success has been incremental, even by geological standards: in the last 15 years that the modern world has been in love with online, we've barely reached the point where some of us use Netflix through our Blu-ray players. Can Match.com be different?

Yes. The reason that the interracial Web/TV thing has never flourished before is a question of content, not medium. The TV is a thing that you sit back and stare at. The computer is something that you actively manipulate. That's why watching DVDs in your office chair or trying to shop Amazon on your 52-inch Sony aren't satisfying; these devices are purpose-built, so putting content from one on another feels awkward. But perusing Match.com (or even Facebook and MySpace, to an extent) is frequently more passive than it is active, which might make it a pretty good couch activity.

The problems will start when a user wants to actually contact a member or return a message, and not just human-shop a list of profiles. For that, they'll have to run back to the PC; there's no keyboard included with the BT Vision box. That's what you'd call the "widget" problem: people won't use compacted versions of their favorite services unless those widgets do 90% of what they want. And since reaching out to people is the entire point of Match.com, the TV incarnation might not satisfy anyone except the lurker. No word on when the service will make landfall in the U.S.

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