What are you doing when you watch your favorite TV shows? If you are like most people, you’re probably not just focusing on the TV screen, but are also using a second device such as a smartphone or tablet. Users can interact with companion apps in a variety of ways to enhance the viewing experience.
Check-In to Shows for Exclusive Content and Rewards
Entertainment check-in apps such as Get Glue encourage users to check-in to the show they are watching to unlock stickers and connect with other users watching the same shows. Users are alerted when their friends are watching the same show to encourage connecting to discuss the show. The app also streams comments from users talking about the show on GetGlue, which allows for more active engagement. We discussed earlier this week that the Oscars broke the record for entertainment check-ins, showing the service is gaining mainstream traction.
Viggle is another entertainment check-in app, but differs from GetGlue by listening to what the user is watching to allow a check-in. Instead of offering stickers or badges as incentives, Viggle users receive points for checking into shows or watching in-app advertising, and these points can be used to receive giftcards from a variety companies including Starbucks, Lowe’s, and BestBuy. Viggle is less socially enabled than GetGlue and does not feature a live stream of user comments, but users can share their check-ins to Facebook and Twitter.
Enhanced Show Experiences
A few weeks ago, we discussed interactive TV and companion apps like the Sons of Anarchy commerce enabled app that syncs with the show to let users purchase clothing worn by the show’s characters. More and more shows are sponsoring companion apps to allow viewers to access exclusive content and interact with the show in new ways.
Fans of TBS’s Conan can now view bonus content while watching the show through the recently released Team Coco interactive tablet app. The app syncs with the show being watched live, on DVR, or that are hosted in the app and shows users exclusive clips, information about the guests, and social network feeds.
Red Bee Media and FX UK recently partnered to release a companion app for the UK premiere of the new season of The Walking Dead, a popular fantasy drama set in a world infested with zombies. The app syncs with the show using digital audio watermarking technology to allow users to predict the number of zombie kills and share the results to Facebook and Twitter.
Miso, another entertainment check-in app, recently announced a new feature called SideShows that enables shows create synchronized second screen experiences within the app. DirecTV and AT&T U-verse subscribers can sync with a live or recorded show to see companion content on a timeline matching the show. The USA Network show “White Collar” was one of the first shows to use SideShows , and at different moments in the show it displayed quotes, polls, facts, photos, video, and even a location pinpointed on Google Maps.
Linking with Companion Apps
MySpace made a splash at the 2012 CES with co-owner Justin Timberlake helping to announce the MySpace TV platform. The company plans to release a social TV app centered on music television content. They are also releasing a companion app to further enhance their interactive TV experience. The app uses Audible Magic’s high resolution audio fingerprinting technology to recognize music playing on TV to provide rich information about the recording artist, such as the artist’s other available music, photos, videos, and relevant MySpace Music artist pages.
As interactive and social TV platforms become more popular and tablet use continues to increase, companion apps will become more relevant to users looking to enhance the TV viewing experience. Why should a viewer manually search for information on an actor when an app can sync with the show to automatically display relevant information?
Rebecca May, 03.01.12