NEW YORK (TheWrap.com) – ConnecTV and Pearl Media, a consortium of broadcasting companies, have launched a new social network, also named ConnecTV, to compliment television viewing.
Using audio recognition technology, it immediately picks up on what a viewer is watching – whether live or recorded – and offers supplementary information like statistics for a sporting event or further detail about a news story.
Available as an iPad app and a web-based experience with Android and iPhone apps to come, it also enables users to engage with others using Twitter and Facebook or arranging “viewing parties” to chat about the show or event with other friends using ConnecTV.
“We’re providing a complimentary experience to drive more engagement around local stories, sports and more,” ConnecTV co-founder Ian Aaron told TheWrap. “We’ve created an interface that works for the way you watch TV, automatically providing you information related to the show, sportscast or newscast.”
ConnecTV is grounded in local television as its broadcast partners, which include Cox, Hearst Television and Gannett Broadcasting, run local affiliates for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW, MyNetwork TV and other stations.
It launched in 40 major markets Tuesday, integrated across 85 local affiliates. That total will soon grow to 215 stations.
The company’s revenues will come from advertisements, which its broadcast partners, who have invested in the company, can help sell.
The more information it collects about its users, the more targeted the ads become.
Nielsen data suggests the majority of television viewers are using a smartphone, tablet or laptop while watching television – a “second screen,” as it is known – making social television and the “second screen” hot-button issues in the television industry.
Networks want to use social media and applications to further engage viewers and expand their audience.
ConnecTV hopes to become the go-to platform for social interaction around and information about those shows. In doing so, it hopes to drive higher viewership, satisfying the desire of networks and stations.
A series of start-ups have launched in this same space, from IntoNow (now owned by Yahoo) to check-in apps like Miso and GetGlue. Television networks like MTV and HBO have also created their own apps.
Aaron sees ConnecTV as aiming for a more comprehensive approach than a single network’s app.
“People don’t watch one channel, download the app, change the channel, download another app,” Aaron said. “That’s not how people watch TV.”
He also believes, even though it has an app, that it is more a social network than a single app.
“It’s also not like you have to hold up something and press a button like Shazam,” he added.
Instead, their goal is to be like Facebook, only with a singular focus on television.
Given all the different TV companion options out there, the real challenge is building a large user base.
That is something Facebook knows all about.