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Social entertainment app GetGlue, which has steadily grown to 4 million users since launching in June 2010, has a new iPhone update due Thursday.
Social TV app GetGlue wants to become an even stickier second-screen destination.
A new personalized TV guide, already on GetGlue's iPad and Web versions, is part of its updated iPhone app (just out in the App Store; it will hit the Google Play store for Android in coming weeks). The service has special events tied to Sunday's Grammys, as well as the Feb. 24 Academy Awards and the NCAA men's basketball tournament in March.
The New York-based tech start-up, which released its free iPhone app in June 2010, has seen users grow to 4 million. It has partnered with 75 major networks and most major Hollywood studios and distributors. Founder Alex Iskold says GetGlue's mission is to transform the "water cooler that we have been using to discuss television in person."
GetGlue came to life in the early stages of the so-called second-screen phenomenon, in which TV viewers simultaneously watch TV and interact with friends on smartphones and tablets..
It's among several entrants that connect entertainment programming with social networks. Among them: social TV guide Dijit(which last week acquired TV app Miso); Yahoo's IntoNow app; TV watching rewards program Viggle; interactive program guide Zeebox; and Nintendo's TVii on the Wii U console's touch-screen game-pad controller.
Nearly half the U.S. population uses social media while watching TV, according to research firm InSites Consulting. The younger the viewer, the more likely they are to be social second-screen users, says InSite's co-founder Joeri Van den Bergh, author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generation Y.
Second-screen apps do more than just provide more information about what you're watching, he says. "You don't want to miss the show that everyone will talk about the next day, but you can't afford to miss the latest hilarious status update or comment of your friend, either," Van den Bergh says.
Here is a sticker that GetGlue users can get when they "check in" while watching AMC's "The Walking Dead" TV series when it returns Feb. 10. Users can also ask GetGlue to mail them real-world stickers of the check-ins they have earned.(Photo: AMC)
Social networking tied to TV programming has risen three-fold in the last year, says Meghann Elrhoul, vice president of client services and analytics at research firm Trendrr. During the Super Bowl, activity rose even more — from 3 million interactions in 2011 to more than 50 million.
"What you are seeing now is really the tipping point, where networks, brands and most importantly, consumers are adopting and embracing this behavior," says Elrhoul, whose firm has been tracking social platforms and TV viewing since 2008.
Just as location-based apps such as Foursquare and Yelp let you check in at places, GetGlue users check in when they're watching a certain TV show, movie or sports event (gone are previous check-in options allowing books, video games and topics such as coffee). . Within the GetGlue app, viewers of Downton Abbey or the Super Bowl, for example, can chat about the broadcast. "It kind of opens up this community conversation, where you are able to watch together," says longtime user Greg Sahadachny, 30, of Silver Spring, Md. The app also allows you to post your check-ins on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr
As a reward, when you check in during the real-time broadcast, you might get a virtual sticker for that event, be it a football game, TV episode or movie opening. When users have checked in enough times, they can ask GetGlue to send them real-world stickers of their achievements. "I try to get every sticker for my favorite shows," says Jenna Vento, 22, a student at the University of Georgia who is partial to USA Network's Psych.
The iPhone update
For the Grammys, GetGlue is working with The Recording Academy for special stickers and prizes, including two tickets to next year's Grammys. During the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Turner Sports and GetGlue will have a series of March Madness stickers.
GetGlue users can already check in and earn stickers while viewing Oscar-nominated films. The company is working with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences official show website (Oscar.go.com) for special promotions during the Feb. 24 broadcast.
That synergy helps GetGlue stand out in the social-TV market, says Natan Edelsburg, who tracks the category on news site LostRemote.com. "Social platforms are now the glue that makes TV grow, and vice versa," says Edelsburg, who helps produce the Shorty Awards for the best uses of social media.
Advertisers are tuning in for social-TV rewards, too. During the Super Bowl, GetGlue had more than 200,000 check-ins and 400,000-plus total activities (likes, replies, votes, etc.) And 15% of all Pepsi mentions on Twitter during the halftime show came from GetGlue.
The soft drink company has worked with GetGlue for two years — including last year's Super Bowl and two seasons of The X Factor — and sponsored special advertiser-promoted stickers for this year's big game. "Having access to the super-engaged GetGlue consumer is big for us," says Andrea Harrison, director of digital engagement at Pepsi.
Balancing the needs of app users and advertisers "is going to be a challenge for GetGlue and anyone else in the space going forward," says Janko Roettgers of news site GigaOm. Advertisers want better ways to connect with consumers, he says, but "consumers just want TV to be easier, and more fun."
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