Social TV start-up Miso has launched SideShows, or interactive content experiences that play on users' iPhones while they watch TV to deepen engagement with the second screen. Its first partners are Showtime, Fox, Food Network, DirecTV's Audience Network, Halogen, Science Channel and CBS Television Distribution.
The content in SideShows varies from characters' back stories to information on guest stars, fashion, history facts, trivia and quotes. It is created with an open publishing platform accessible by anyone -networks, Miso's superfans, bloggers, comedians and, potentially, celebrities - regardless of whether they are associated with the show.
No one famous has signed up just yet, but CEO Somrat Niyogi says, "Imagine watching TV and tuning into a SideShow by one of your favorite actors or watching No Reservations with a SideShow by Anthony Bourdain."
Niyogi looks to a future in which networks can deliver ads from show sponsors directly onto second screens. But SideShows isn't there yet.
As of December 27 Miso had about 300 SideShows. Shows include Dexter, Bones, Damages and the Next Iron Chef.
Amber Harris, director of social media at Discovery Communications, says Discovery launched its first SideShow in November for Science's "Trek Nation." And, in January, the network will launch SideShows for Science's "An Idiot Abroad 2: The Bucket List."
"Science is a perfect fit for Miso and the SideShow experience, as the network is dedicated to the thought provocateur and those curious about the world around them," Harris explains.
The value for Science is the ability to easily create a companion experience that deepens engagement with the network and viewing experience, she says. "[Our fans] crave knowledge and we are able to provide an entertaining complement in the form of SideShows that satisfy curiosity and enjoyment."
Discovery's SideShows are produced by its in-house social media team, as well as individuals from its production, communication, marketing, and digital media departments.
"When building the SideShows, we start by watching the episode and making notes about what we would like to know more about or share and then we whittle this down to the most compelling mix of trivia, polls, questions and quotes," Harris says. "In the case of 'Trek Nation,' we were able to refer people to our fansite slideshow of the Top 10 Star Trek Quotes, ask them about their first Trek experience and give them shareable factoids about the series and its stars."
Harris also notes Discovery has had great success in creating co-viewing experiences on other platforms, like websites, iPhone and iPad apps, and social media. Discovery has also been working with social TV start-up GetGlue since October 2010, offering stickers and discounts for checking into series on Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and Science.
Miso has 250,000 users and has raised $6 million to date from Google Ventures, Heart Interactive Media, Khosla Ventures and individuals associated with Square, YouTube, Epinions, AngelList, and Google.