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Social TV Grows Up: Communities and Advertisers Flock

Ron Schott
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social-tv-iphoneToday, many TV viewers are using a mobile device while watching content, be it live, streamed, or otherwise. They’re breaking Twitter records during awards shows and hammering hashtags during shows like “Glee”, “Gossip Girl”, and “The Big Bang Theory”.

Going beyond Facebook and Twitter, a number of applications have sprung up that not only tie real-world actions to online communities, but that allow for an experience that goes beyond the TV screen and into the palm of viewers’ hands.

Fast-Paced Growth

While social media and TV have come close together over the past few years, applications that let users check in to TV shows, movies, music, and more have really been making their way to the forefront in the past year or so.

Capping a year where social entertainment applications saw great rise, GetGlue announced at CES 2012 that they received $12 million in financing in their last round.

While numbers of users aren’t Facebook-like (GetGlue is nearing two million and Miso is more in the 100,000 to 200,000 range), investors like Time Warner, Google Ventures, Heart Interactive, and more are jumping into the fray, eager to put their money behind the next “Foursquare of TV.”

Must-Have Applications

While new applications focusing on the space are popping up every day, there are a few applications that we see as category leaders.

GetGlue

When people started using mobile check-ins more and more, eventually people wanted to not only say where they were, but what they were doing. Enter GetGlue, the community that asks people what they‟re doing – whether it’s watching a TV show, watching a movie, watching sports, listening to music, playing a video game, reading a book, thinking about a celebrity, or thinking about a topic.

Users check in and receive stickers for their efforts. GetGlue goes beyond the online realm, because users can actually order real-life version of their stickers directly from GetGlue. Hello, laptop decoration!

Miso

One of the first real check in aps for television, Miso has gone through some great iterations to get where it is today. With the inclusion of new “SideShows” into their application, Miso has put content that is synched with shows right into the TV watching experience on the second screen.

Miso has some exciting partnerships and a wealth of apps actually built on top of their API. Look for Miso to do some great things in 2012.

IntoNow

Similar to GetGlue, IntoNow lets users check into the TV channels they’re currently watching, but this application actually goes a step further and uses “listening” technology to figure out which exact show users are watching.

The tool is quickly gaining users who can see which shows their friends are watching and comment on those check-ins. The technology behind IntoNow is called SoundPrint, and it uses between 4-12 seconds of a show’s audio to make a match against hundreds of shows show across 130 channels of live television, as well as 266 years of video in its index.

Peel

The maker of the weird bridge between your smartphone and your TV (that looks like an oddly-shaped fruit) also have an app that allows users to check out what’s on TV and check in with friends. They call it, Peel 2.0.

Their free app can be paired with the Peel Smart Remote Device in order to help configure recommendations and viewing experiences. In all honesty, the experience without the actual device seems pretty limited.

Social interactions are thanks to Facebook Connect and allow users to view favorite shows from their friends. Actions aren’t shared with Facebook or Twitter unless users specifically take the “Recommend” action, so users don’t have to worry about sharing their bad taste in television accidentally with friends.

Yap.TV

Yap.TV seems to be the application that clearly was thinking about marketing and brand participation since launch – their community just isn’t as large at this point in time. With Steve Wozniak as an advisor, you can tell this company is going places.

Yap.TV's focus on content curation and branded experiences are enticing. Their connections to Twitter and Facebook make for easy sharing and they’ve even got an in-house polling feature that allows brands and users to ask questions about different programs.

Tunerfish

Born in the bowels of Comcast Interactive Media as a skunk-works project, Tunerfish spun out (kind of) and headed to Silicon Valley to mature. The service bills itself as a social discovery engine for TV, movies, and online video. They even have the “lovingly hand-crafted in Mountain View, California” tagline going for them.

Compared to the other products, it’s still in its infancy, but you can bet Tunerfish won’t be going away anytime soon – especially with Comcast backing.

Viggle

Viggle is one of the newest apps on the block, but don’t let the newness fool you – Viggle is all business and their business is good. Viggle not only lets users check in to television shows, it rewards them for checking in to those shows (and for watching in-app video ads) with points.

Users who rack up 7,500 points win a $5 gift card from retailers that joined Viggle at launch. These aren’t small brands; we’re talking Burger King, iTunes, Best Buy, CVS, and Starbucks.

Viggle’s app is like IntoNow in that it listens to what you're watching to verify the program rather than relying simply on user-entered information.

Social Entertainment in 2012 and Beyond

This will be the year when social and entertainment start to blend so much that telling the difference between TV-run and online content and interactions will become hard. As production companies and networks team up with technology providers, we will see TVs start to move to the front of the pack in terms of in-program social interactions.

Already manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, LG, and Vizio are providing a connected viewing experience, and it’s only a matter of time until applications like Miso, GetGlue, and others are incorporated as apps into the TV interface. As prices of these connected TVs fall, adoption will increase.

Smart technologies like those used by IntoNow to listen and detect content will become the norm, reducing the legwork of finding which content a viewer is watching before interacting with social communities around those programs.

Look for branded experiences to ride along with social content generated around TV and movie programming (much in the same way as Miso’s “slideshows”). Brands already paying for product placement will be able to offer experiences which lead to purchase by incorporating content into mobile device TV applications and connected TV functions.

Further down the road, we’ll see content where users can vote in near real-time to decide the plot of a show. This is already being done in some movie theaters with text-based voting, but as devices and entertainment become closer thanks to new technologies, the transitions can be near-seamless. This will also become useful in real-time voting for shows like "American Idol".

The Super Bowl is also coming up. Expect to see these social entertainment apps taking advantage of the big game. In fact, perennial Super Bowl advertising juggernaut Chevrolet has even built their own check in app for the event and will be giving away 20 Chevys during the broadcast thought the app.


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