• 09.27.12

Why Is Pinterest Poking Around In TV Land?

“We met with Pinterest, and they were asking us where we thought the connection between Pinterest and TV could be,” says Lisa Hsia, EVP of digital for cable channel Bravo.

Why Is Pinterest Poking Around In TV Land?

The battle for the living room is on, with tech giants Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and social kings Facebook and Twitter all jockeying for your attention on the TV screen. But the war for the first-screen (Xbox, Apple TV) and second-screen experiences (on your smartphone or tablet) is only beginning in earnest, with upstarts such as GetGlue and Shazam entering the space everyday. Could Pinterest soon be throwing its hat in the ring too?


Fast Company has learned that the interest-sharing and soon-to-be e-commerce platform, which enables users to “pin” and share photo-tagged items online, has recently met with various TV networks. So far we’ve been able to confirm that MTV, VH1, and Bravo are in the mix, though more are likely involved. While it’s too early to say what such meetings could yield, they serve as a sign of the two-year-old startup’s increasing interest in brands and media. But what would Pinterest TV look like, should such a thing exist?

“We met with Pinterest, and they were asking us where we thought the connection between Pinterest and TV could be,” says Lisa Hsia, Bravo’s EVP of digital. “It was interesting. I was like, ‘Wow, I never really thought of Pinterest [with TV].’ I was just happy to get a meeting with Pinterest.”

Of course, before getting too excited about the potential for such a partnership, it’s important to note that it’s not uncommon for a startup, especially one that’s growing at as fast a clip as Pinterest, to take all kinds of meetings, as a spokesperson for Pinterest was quick to point out. “Pinners get a lot of benefit from the content shared by businesses such as retailers, brands, and media companies,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve started some outreach to these businesses that are active on Pinterest or ones that are seeing a lot of user engagement. Certainly, that includes some TV networks or programs but, at this point, it has more to do with the relevance of their web content to topics that are popular on Pinterest than anything else.”

As I’ve been told, the meetings were generally about relationship building and helping to optimize the Pinterest platform for third parties, perhaps similar to its relationship to Etsy. In other words, it’s not likely the 70-person shop is already looking to expand to on-screen TV engagement–it only just landed on the iPad. As the Pinterest spokesperson clarified, “Right now, we’re focused on helping businesses share engaging content on Pinterest and to be successful, generally, on the site.”

Still, TV brands have always played a big role in growing social platforms, and are likely a necessary part of Pinterest’s evolution. Twitter and Facebook have become intertwined with live-TV viewing; Instagram has worked with broadcast networks like CNN; and Foursquare has helped devise interesting applications with the History and Weather channels. On Pinterest, for example, we’re already seeing popular feeds from MTV and the Food Network. But as Hsia told me of up-and-coming social platforms, “You know, sometimes not everything is meant to be with TV.”

That couldn’t stop us from imagining the possibilities, however. Could we soon be pinning mixing bowls and other kitchen ware seen on Bravo’s Top Chef to Pinterest?

“I don’t know yet–maybe,” Hsia says, with a wide smile and a laugh as he quotes from a Bravo show title. “Watch what happens.”


[Image: Flickr user Littlemaiba]

About the author

Austin Carr writes about design and technology for Fast Company magazine.