Another great way to give people the ability to showcase their taste for media: Include other content makers in the Marketplace. Microsoft already announced that they would finally be dropping the Microsoft Points currency system. Frankly, it's about time. I was sick of figuring out the conversion rate from the United States' Dollar to the Island of Microsoft's Point. (One point equals 0.0125 dollars, for the record. I befriended a math major for that information.) Now that the payment system is simplified, a move no doubt meant to encourage casual users to make purchases, Microsoft needs to give people something they might want to spend real money on. Let studios and shows develop their own marketplace content to give to their audience. Die-hard fans will happily fork out a few bucks to support their show while sporting an inside joke on their virtual self. I need to be able to wear my "#AnniesMove" t-shirt to broadcast my love for Community in real life and on Xbox Live.
Microsoft needs to give people something they might want to spend real money on.
Another cue Microsoft can take to make the TV on Xbox Live experience worthwhile is actually one that was used by a cable channel: Host a post-show discussion show. It's a little meta, but stay with me. When season two of The Walking Dead launched, AMC filled the slot that followed immediately behind the episode with a live call-in show called The Talking Dead. While this confused Google for a long time (No, I actually mean The Talking Dead Google, stop trying to correct me), the post-program wrap-up did fairly well. With prominent guests, great banter and plenty of interactivity, it added a whole new layer of immersion to a show that always warrants water-cooler discussion. Imagine having the ability to watch the latest drama live, then hop into a discussion room complete with a charismatic host, occasional celebrity and the ability to get your questions answered live. Remember how much buzz Lost generated the day after every episode? Let's have those conspiracy theory-type dialogues right after the show ends. I'll happily listen to some nerds argue about things and then steal relevant topic points to seem smart and observant when I use them with my friends the next day.
As long as we're trying to spark some conversation, borrow the Party Mode that Netflix provided for so long. It's a simple one as far as concept, but it goes a long way. One of the biggest selling points of playing games online is the ability to communicate in-game via headset. While the majority of this communication boils down to 13-year olds shouting vulgarities at people, the theory behind it is sound. Television isn't always meant to be a lonely medium -- it's a conversation piece. If I'm going to watch the latest serialized crime drama, I want to be able to beat my friends to guessing who the killer is. More than that, I want them to see I'm watching it and be able to join in.