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Social TV app Zeebox lands in U.S. with programmer backing

The second-screen TV companion seeks to blend TV programming with interactive features, including social networks and targeted advertising.

Zeebox on various devices.

Second-screen TV app Zeebox, which touts itself as new way for TV viewers to find and discover content, is landing in the U.S. with the backing of 30 broadcasters, including Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO, and Cinemax.

With more than 1.5 million users in the U.K., the free Zeebox app for Android and iOS devices seeks to marry TV programming information with interactive features, including social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

The new app is likely to blend well with the activities of millions who already use portable devices in conjunction with TV viewing; a recent Nielsen survey found that 86 percent of tablet owners and 84 percent of smartphone users checked their mobile devices while watching TV.

In addition to seeing what's trending, users will also see what programs their friends are watching and get personalized programming recommendations via the OpenBox API, which the British startup promises providers can incorporate "in a matter of hours." The social discovery platform is also expected to allow broadcasters to deliver exclusive content and target viewers through synchronized, relevant advertising.

In addition to programming and promotional support, strategic launch partners Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal will provide unspecified investments.

"We are proud to launch with this game-changing roster of partners who recognize the importance of fully meeting web-empowered consumer expectations," Ernesto Schmitt, CEO and co-founder of Zeebox said in a statement. "As consumers continue to flock to social media and the web to experience a program beyond what is on the screen, zeebox gives content owners and programmers a direct line of communication, feedback and engagement that has never before been possible."

Some of the features Zeebox is touting:

  • A comprehensive 7-day TV program guide across all major U.S. TV channels, enabling the configuration of customized channel lineups and booking of future TV show reminder.
  • Integration with Facebook and Twitter to enable social discovery of TV content, and engagement with friends and celebrities across live TV.
  • In-depth information about shows, talent, topics and products mentioned on TV -- synchronized second by second with the live show
  • E-commerce links to relevant digital and physical products related to shows and the content of shows, with direct links to video-on-demand content to come in the near future.
  • Optimized for the iPhone 5, four-inch Retina display and on iOS 6 including Smart App downloads within Zeebox and Facebook single sign-on.

The apps are expected to be available soon in the U.S., although at press time notices indicated they were currently available for download from U.S. stores.