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My test run of Zeebox #socialTV app

January 20, 2013

So, one week into the new gig at NM Incite and it’s looking like a big year. Turning everyday social media commentary into actionable strategic insights at the brand, corporate and product development level (as opposed to the operational insights that people have used it for so far) will become a growing part of our industry – something I hope to continue to share at a personal level via this blog.

I’ve been doing my homework on social TV, which will become a major talking point mid-way through this year when Nielsen Research and Twitter produce the outputs of their exclusive Twitter TV ratings project. It should be exciting for the media industry, and accordingly this week I decided to give Zeebox Australia a test run on my iPad. You can also use it on your desktop and have pretty much the same experience.

Zeebox for iPad

Zeebox for iPad

Having used Channel 7’s Fango app previously, at first I thought I was walking into an app that simply created another walled garden of commentary within the community they sought to create. Happily, I realised that Zeebox serves more as an aggregator of TV commentary in a convenient method for its users. It primarily draws in Twitter conversations for TV programming and consolidates them within each program’s profile. If you’re not a Twitterer – then you can still make comments that appear on Zeebox only, and everyone else can continue to view them. Facebook and Twitter integration is smooth and makes sense for this app, although I noticed – but didn’t research any further – that Facebook comments aren’t detected or added to the stream of commentary. I suspect this is more to do with privacy issues in extracting that data from Facebook (most people by now would have private status updates etc). You can quite easily post out to your Facebook profile though if you’d like to get your friends involved in the conversation.

I won’t go on too much, but here’s a couple of things I liked. The first screenshot is the programming guide. 3 minutes after looking through this, I went and deleted my other TV Guide application off my iPad.  The programming guide has built in alerts to remind you that a show you’ve earmarked is coming on (push notifications keep you aprised), and tells you based on how many users are viewing the commentary of a particular show – how the audience for a particular program is growing, steady, or shrinking. A simplified ‘buzz’ measurement gives you an indicator of just how social each program is based on the velocity of tweets and comments per minute, and you can also see which connections from your Zeebox network (which includes your facebook and/or twitter friends) are currently logged into Zeebox and watching a program. In the screenshot below, you can see a bunch of thumbnail profile pics for the Australian Open tennis, for example.

Screenshot of the Zeebox Social TV programming guide.

Screenshot of the Zeebox Social TV programming guide.

If you’re not viewing the programming schedule, then your dashboard shows what’s popular (based on tweet buzz), some key featured programs, and celebrity picks – what famous tweeters are watching and what they have to say. From this for example, on my first evening checking out the app, I somehow managed to strike up a brief conversation with Michael Ebeid, Managing Director of SBS about their SBS on Demand app (also worth checking out, but not the point of this blog post).

Zeebox dashboard

Zeebox dashboard

All in all, I was really impressed with the app. I’ve only checked it out on iPad and nothing else, but a great experience, I was able to figure out how to use it first time around without getting stuck, and am keen to give it a further test run soon. Tonight’s mediocre TV viewing should be more interesting with this. Through my work this year, I’ll also want to check out Social Guide as soon as it becomes available in Australia. Social Guide will have more of a direct link to the Twitter TV ratings I mentioned earlier, but no word on how that link will work for some time yet.

I’d love to know whether you would use an app like this as a TV companion, and if you do (or would), what value it adds most to your TV viewing. Does it make you feel more engaged? Comments welcome.

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