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DirecTV partners with Miso to deliver social TV to living rooms

Miso, a Google-backed social TV startup, has a new iPhone app that communicates with DirecTV boxes to identify the shows you are watching.

When news of Beyonce's pregnancy broke on MTV's VMAs this week, Twitter traffic hit a record 8,868 tweets per second, suggesting that even passive TV watching is becoming a social event. That convergence could get a kick-start via a partnership announced today between satellite TV giant DirecTV and a social-media startup called Miso.

Miso has developed an iPhone app that has the capability to "know" what you are watching on TV and to automatically check in to shows and share or follow comments about the show on Facebook and Twitter.

"TV itself is a one-way medium--content is shouted at you. What we will be able to do is enable an experience that you can customize and personalize," Miso CEO Somrat Niyogi said.

The iPhone app facilitates sharing by automatically recognizing what you're watching. For instance, you can chat with other fans and rate your favorite shows without having to search for specific hash tags on Twitter or fan pages on Facebook.

Last year, the company raised seed funding from Google Ventures and angels such as Square's Keith Rabois. It is by no means alone in this space, facing competition from GetClue, IntoNow, and Foursquare. But Miso, which has 250,000 users who use the app to follow shows, could get gain an edge by tying up with a company with millions of installed set-top boxes.

Eventually Niyogi wants to partner with other cable providers and plans to expand the type of content that is delivered to its users through various devices. An earlier version of the app is available to Android and iPad users, but unlike the latest iPhone version, users have to type in the name of the TV show they are watching before any of the social-sharing features are available. With DirecTV that step is eliminated, making it easy for chatty channel surfers to keep up with social commentary.

Once the app is downloaded, the setup involves three steps: Connect the iPhone's Wi-Fi to the same network DirecTV is on; open Miso, and it will locate your remote; and tap the sync button so the phone knows to use the receiver you're holding. That way, even when you change the channel with your remote, the show that appears on your phone's screen changes with the TV screen.

Miso follows Foursquare's check-in model of offering rewards and badges but also gives fans a place to talk to other fans checked in to the same episode.