Mobile apps aim to enhance Oscar watching


NEW YORK: The 84th Academy Awards is taking place not just on your TV, but on your iPad, Droid and Macbook.

Research shows that the majority of people with smartphones or Tablets use them while watching TV.

Numerous companies that produce “second-screen” apps — applications that one uses on those devices while tuning in — have picked this years Oscars as an opportunity to promote their brand and attract new users.

Some are posing trivia challenges while others feature red carpet photos, and many are offering special prizes.

But they are all hoping that users want a more engaging Oscars broadcast, enhanced by this extra content and by social media.

Sunday night’s awards cap off a sequence of big events — from the Super Bowl to the Grammys — with which the likes of Shazam, Miso, GetGlue and others have tried to establish themselves as the go-to companion to your TV experience.

Time will tell which companies win out, but here is what some of them are doing:

Viggle

What it is: Owned by Function (X), a company founded by entrepreneur Bob Sillerman, Viggle is a loyalty program for television. Viewers “check in” while watching a certain show using the app and get points that go toward various rewards, like a Starbucks gift card or movie tickets.

Oscars: Viggle has partnered with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, to offer live polls, quizzes and trivia questions specific to the show. Correct answers will earn the user points, which go toward prizes. This particular experience will make use of technology from Localize, a company Viggle bought.

Possible surprise: Jason Reindorp, VP of Marketing for Viggle, said there might be a special partnership with Ryan Seacrest Sunday night. Sillerman has a relationship with the popular TV personality because his old company, CKX, held the global rights for American Idol.

IntoNow

What it is: IntoNow, founded by Adam Cahan and now owned by Yahoo!, uses audio recognition software to pick out what someone is watching and provide extra information related to the show. It also highlights the social media chatter around a show.

Oscars: Users can give red carpet looks a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, get information about the nominees, take polls for the various categories and pick the winners. It will also help users talk with one another and see what everyone on Twitter and Facebook is taking about at the same time.

Prediction: Yahoo!’s scientists give The Artist almost a 90% chance of winning. What’s that extra 10% for?

GetGlue

What it is: A startup founded by Alex Iskold with financial backing from Union Square Ventures, RRE Ventures and Time Warner Cable. Again, users “check in” to a show, but this time you get stickers instead of points.

Like True Blood? You check in, and at first you get a digital sticker. Get enough digital stickers and you can get a real sticker or a discount for the network store. GetGlue works with 57 major networks and has more than two million users.

Oscars: GetGlue has partnered with ABC to award people before Sunday and on the day of the telecast. You can get stickers for checking in to the nominated films, checking in to the red carpet or watching Jimmy Kimmel’s show.

A note from Kimber Myers, Director of Partnerships: “Last year’s Oscars was the record holder for the top event on GetGlue.

It was surpassed a number of times in the past year, whether by True Blood or Walking Dead or the Super Bowl, but we do expect the weekend to be a big one.”

Miso

What it is: A startup founded by Somrat Niyogi and Tim Lee, backed by prominent Silicon Valley investors Kholsa Ventures, Google Ventures and Hearst Interactive Media.

It began as a “check-in” and rewards app like GetGlue, but has since moved toward offering “SideShows” — curated, unique content related to each show.

There’s the standard stuff — information on guest stars, trivia and quotes. But there’s also the opportunity for much more because anyone can publish a second-screen experience on the Miso platform.

Want a drinking game with Mad Men? You can make it. Love Beavis and Butthead? Imagine them providing commentary on How I Met Your Mother.

Oscars: Miso will offer its first live SideShow as part of a partnership with Hyundai. Users can access special videos and music and take polls while watching the show. They can also qualify for a “sponsored badge” for their profile.

Niyogi on Miso: “The opening publishing platform allows real flexibility. It’s like word press or Tumblr for social television. We’re still trying to figure out what content matters to you, so you can explore.”

Umami

What it is: A startup founded by TV technology veterans Scott Rosenberg and Bryan Slavin, Umami is backed by NEA, Battery Ventures and angel investors.

It aims to be the “ultimate TV companion,” providing everything from cast member biographies to trivia to special photos.

Umami uses audio recognition software to recognise exactly where a user is in any given show, and then provide personalised information related to that show.

Oscars: Umami is debuting “Freeze Frame” for the Oscars, a feature that lets users capture images from the shows they’re watching and then share them on Facebook or Twitter.

The company compares it to Pinterest for shows, letting users share images of moments, actors products and so on.

Umami is also announcing “Dashboard,” a social dashboard that shows how many people are talking about a show and identifies popular links and Tweets.

Rosenberg on Umami’s Oscars update: “We make it really dirt-simple to get into the app and answer 80% of the questions consumers have about a show — who is that actress, what’s the latest gossip, show me some photos.” — The Wrap.com/Reuters

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