It’s a problem we all have to overcome at some stage. You’re unable to catch the next episode of your favourite TV show when it airs. You know the rest of the world will be watching. Watching leads to discussing. Terrified at the prospect of the dreaded TV spoiler, you scream ‘spoiler alert!’ in your housemates face at the sheer mention of any TV show, regardless of its relevance.
You’re left with no choice but to become a social recluse. Eating lavatory lunches, closing your Facebook account, and switching your pop-cultural curiosity off. The TV spoiler defines a first world problem. Thankfully, it may soon be a thing of the past.
Google to the Rescue
That is all thanks to Google, who are bidding to end the misery of millions of people. Last week, they filed a patent for a “system and method for processing content spoilers.” Granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, Google can set about saving you from the horrors listed above.
Image- Google Play
There are a number of ways you can set about avoiding a key plot twist without casting yourself back to the 19th Century, but none are full proof. Spoiler Shield, an extension of Google Chrome and mobile app, allows you to ‘mute’ certain events (be it TV or sporting spoilers) from your Twitter or Facebook timelines. A number of other programmes exist that allow you to block out certain keywords from social media. Tweetdeck for example, has the capacity to block out words and phrases from your Twitter feed. Similarly, Tumblr Savior, also an extension of the Chrome browser, allows you to blacklist certain words or phrases, banning them from ever gracing your Tumblr feed. Each of the above formulas are burdened with questionable reviews, and placing your faith in one of these apps could end in disaster.
Google then, are looking to break beyond this basic level of security with a much more detailed method of spoiler protection. Under their system, Google will be able to track your individual TV viewing progress, and plug in spoilers as and when you need them. The system will hinge on Google being able to link to online streaming services such as Netflix. Tracking how many episodes of a certain show you’ve seen, Google can then block out any content that relates to an episode you haven’t seen. Of course, this is reliant on people opting-in for their viewing habits being tracked. Alternatively, users may be able to enter their progress manually, which would also account for shows that are aired on mainstream TV stations ahead of online streaming sites.
It’s not all Good News
The passing of this patent is particularly pertinent this week due to the release of season 5 of TV colossus Game of Thrones. Leaked online a day before airing on Sky Atlantic, countless lives are put on hold in an efforts to avoid spoilers of the world’s most pirated TV show. Those of us hoping for a quick fix may be disappointed however, as Google have distinguished any hope of a quick resolution.
“We hold patents on a variety of ideas — some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t” said a Google spokeswoman.
“Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patents.”
For now then, we’ll have to wait. Certainly, Google have dangled an enticing carrot in front of the droves of TV fans who like to take things at their own pace. And with online streaming services likely to one day become the leading method for TV show viewing, a process such as Google’s would be a welcome one.