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Early networks that have created a SideShow include Showtime, FOX, Food Network, DIRECTV’s Audience Network, Halogen, Science Channel, and CBS Television Distribution, on programmes such as Dexter, Bones, Damages, The Next Iron Chef, and many more to come.
Natan Edelsburg from Lost Remote interviewed Miso CEO Somrat Niyogi:
We’re launching a new extension of Miso, which we’re calling SideShows. It’s an interactive content experience while you watch TV. I want to talk about two things we learned. The first is that a one size fits all strategy for the second screen doesn’t work. Drama is different than a sitcom, which is different than a reality show, is different than sports. We have seen that’s not what makes sense. As a technology company, we don’t believe we’re in a position to say this is what people want when they watch TV. We should focus on creating tools, for people that know what people want to help each other.
...The second thing we learned might be obvious. TV is an art form. A lot of people spent a lot of money creating a 30 minute sitcom. There’s a start, there’s a middle, there’s an end. That’s pretty amazing. But why is the second screen not thought of in the same way? Why does it just show a bunch of tweets and call it quits? Why do we do that? We don’t believe any automated solution is a key to success in the second screen. We believe that what makes TV so amazing is that there’s a lot of thought into it and it’s fundamentally people that with a lot of creativity define the category. That’s why we created SideShows. SideShows are essentially something you tune into while you watch TV but i’s actually created by people. We’ve created an open publishing platform that allows anyone to create a second screen application on the second screen. So a super fan, TV blogger, TV network can use our publishing platform to tag a specific piece of content at certain moment of time, an image, a video, a question, a quote and layer that on top of TV.
Adweek also covered the news:
Product manager Katie Smillie demonstrated the new feature, called SideShows, to Adweek on Tuesday. Basically, it's a slideshow of additional content that can be synchronized to run alongside a TV show. In one example, Smillie showed a fan-created, fashion-focused SideShow for Gossip Girl. When a notable outfit appeared on screen, the SideShow would bring up a card with more information about the clothes, as well as an image and an online shopping link. Another example was a demo that SideShow created for MTV's high school comedy Awkward. As a song played during show, Miso brought up a card with the title, artist, and a link to the song on Spotify.
In some ways, this may seem like an update to the on-screen captions and annotations that TV shows and DVDs have experimented with in the past. But the SideShows are more interactive, since they're connected to the Web. And because they're on your phone (it's only available on the iPhone initially), they don't interfere with the TV image itself.
The SideShows synchronize with your TV through Miso's partnerships with DirecTV, AT&T U-Verse, and Boxee. So if you use one of those services, Miso knows exactly where you are in a program and can time the SideShow accordingly. You can close the app, and Miso will still notify you about Cards at the right time. (Unfortunately, if you pause the show, you'll have to open the app to sync it again.) Smillie says Miso is working to expand those partnerships, as well as exploring other methods to synchronize SideShows with TVs. For now, if you aren't a DirecTV, U-Verse, or Roku customer, you can still swipe through the SideShows at your own pace.
Both fans and networks can create these experiences—in fact, they already have. Miso recruited some of the most active fans in the app's community to build the initial SideShows, and it also partnered with networks including Showtime and Fox for early experiments. This could provide new opportunities for advertisers. For example, if a TV show includes product placement, then whenever the featured product shows up on-screen, Miso could bring up a card with more information and a link.
My opinion? Gomiso only has a quarter million members, which is still miniscule. If the broadcasters are willing to push the application with calls to action to download on the big screen, Miso could explode. If they don't Miso will find it hard to get real traction. Having said that - Google Ventures backing them in a recent 4 million dollar round certainly gives them more gravitas - and the cash - to expand rapidly.