Santa Claus is not the only one who makes a list and checks it twice this time of year – it seems like everyone offers up a year-end list of some kind during the holiday season, if not several. Never one to be left out of the fun, we offer up a list of our own: Five TV-related Apps That Caught Our Eye in 2011.
IntoNow: A kind of Shazam for television shows, Yahoo’s IntoNow application lets users “tag” a program of their choosing, simply by pointing their mobile device at the screen and pressing a friendly green button. Using nifty SoundPrint TV-listening technology, the app can then identify the show and episode from millions of different broadcast airings, supplying pertinent data and links, and naturally, making sharing it on Twitter and Facebook a breeze. As IntoNow has evolved, it’s partnered with networks and series to feature premium content as well, such as “Project Runway” judge bios, sneak peeks at future episodes, photo flipbooks and more. What could be more fun for a TV fan than simply pointing a device at their favorite show and pressing a button to unlock magical treasures? IntoNow knows the answer: nothing.
HISTORY Shop: Back in the Dark Ages, if a television viewer saw something on a show they wished to own themselves, such as Bill Cosby’s sweater of the week, they had to turn the TV off, drive to their local sweater store and hope that a.) they could even remember what they had seen back at the house and b.) that something in the store actually resembled the item of their desire. It was truly a barbaric time, but lo, we have emerged from it and into enlightenment thanks to HISTORY Shop, an app-collaboration between HISTORY, Verizon and interactive commerce specialists Delivery Agent. Now, anyone who is a Verizon FiOS TV subscriber will, upon being moved to shop by such shows as “Pawn Stars,” “Ice Road Truckers” or “American Pickers,” be able to simply push a button on their remote control, and instantly view an array of buyable online products tailored specifically to the current episode. The list appears on one side of the screen as the program continues to run on the other, and the entire transaction can be made right there within seconds, using the remote. Look for apps like HISTORY Shop to spread across the landscape of networks and providers as the line between TV and retail grows ever-slimmer.
#Hashtag Killer: Television programs have been using social networking to bring fans closer to their favorite characters for a while now, but USA Network took that trend to a whole new level when it teamed with the “scripted social networking” startup SocialSamba in June. To help market the popular series “Covert Affairs,” the two forces created a “Tweetcast” called the #Hashtag Killer, wherein viewers could actually interact with their favorite characters within a fictional Twitter universe and watch them solve an extra crime over the social network. Ostensibly an ongoing exchange of direct messages and @replies between characters such as Christopher Gorham’s blind special-ops agent Auggie Anderson and CIA Trainee Annie Walker, the stunt revolutionized what a tweet can do, offering a seven-week stream of images, videos and various “classified documents” culled from the show’s rich, imaginary world. Creating a personal-feeling connection between characters and fans is crucial in this age of social media, and the #Hashtag Killer was a pioneering plunge into this realm. “SocialSamba’s recipe enables the Psych junkies, the writers and even the marketers,” wrote Social TV website Lost Remote.
Clicker.TV: Acquired by CBS Interactive back in spring, Clicker.TV remains one of the best ways to find television-related Web content on your computer. Simple and user-friendly, the app lets anyone with Boxee installed quickly comb through all available broadcast programming online, including TV-quality Web originals. Subscribers can browse more than 1,000,000 episodes from more than 12,000 shows from more than 2,500 networks, funneling it all into one central watch queue for the viewer. With a smooth, seamless interface, the site is a joy to navigate as well, which speaks volumes in an Internet television field already filled to bursting with jostling competitors.
GetGlue: No 2011 year-end list of television-related apps would be complete without the inclusion of GetGlue, a social networking site that brings the “check-in” notion into the entertainment world. GetGlue is not the only service of its kind (see: Miso amongst others) but it’s done an excellent job of not resting on its laurels, finding new content partners, implementing a sticker service through which users can get entertainment discounts and creating a slick “one-stop self-service marketing dashboard” that helps its partners and marketers get the most out of the service. PromaxBDA member outreach director and GetGlue user Emily Little says she likes the site because “there’s a lot of interaction with my existing friends (especially when I’m checking into my guilty pleasure shows). I also like that my check-ins there automatically update on Facebook and Twitter.” One of Mashable’s “6 promising new companies” in 2010, GetGlue continues to grow and innovate at a breathtaking pace.