There are other big games being played this Sunday, not just the one between the San Francisco 50-minus-Oners and the Baltimore Big Birds. One of them is Zeebox’s “ultimate virtual viewing party” in which football fans and fans of overpriced commercials can interact to their heart’s content, and answer trivia questions to win NFL tickets.
Zeebox would also like to win their hearts.
Zeebox.com, a second screen app started in Great Britain and launched in the United States just a few months ago, has quickly surpassed one million downloads. Its equity partners in the U.S. include Comcast Cable, NBC Universal, and Viacom, with some support from HBO, too. If you have Comcast cable, as I do, you can use it as a sort of channel guide. (GetGlue.com is a similar and older service.)
What’s exciting about Zeebox from a TV standpoint is that it gives viewers an instant immersive experience, as they watch the rot, or even good things, that are on TV. Live viewers are a kind of big deal in TV, like seeing a bald eagle, so if Zeebox can bring them back to life, well, that’s a good thing.
Zeebox will tell its users if the program they’re watching is hot or not, and give a kind of measurement of the chatter out there in the chatterverse. With all kinds of obvious advertiser tie-ins—like the ability of an on-air advertiser to beam a more personalized ad to you at Zipcode 60601 because they know you’re there—Zeebox has a lot of potential as what marketing senior vice president Jennifer Kavanagh refers to as its “synchronized advertising platform.”
It certainly gets you lathered up about what’s on the screen. I just now looked at the Twitter chatter for the Wendy Williams daytime talk show and a Zeeboxer asked, apparently straight-faced, “ Did you guys know Wendy Williams show has NEVER been nominated for daytime Emmy? What's up with that?“
Really? Good question.
There’s a separate little area that populates with factoids based on things mentioned at the same time on TV. Like one right now says “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive,” which is a phonetic reference (followed by a nice backgrounder) to the Harold Arlen-Johnny Mercer tune from the 1940s. That so-called Zeetag is followed by one for Amy Poehler and Lady Gaga, which means Wendy Williams has just now somehow mentioned all of those people and that song-- and so really, based on that, why no Emmy? What is up with that?
For the television business, like I said, a device that makes live viewing worthwhile is a great thing for networks and their suspicious advertisers. Though in fact, Zeebox is just a few weeks away from introducing the ability to recreate the same kind of back and forth talk about programs that a user has DVRed. It’s using audio fingerprinting technology from San Francisco-baed Gracenote, which can connect you to the ongoing conversation about “Homeland” even if you’re watching it several days later.
For the Big Game On Sunday, Kavanagh figured the market for immersive interacting (as we all refer to it) was the crowed who “want to engage outside of the game” like, for the commercials, and the 100% Guaranteed Live performance by Beyonce. (That would include Kavanagh, who is kind of meh about the game aspects.)
NeNeLeakes, star of a reality show on Bravo and NBC’s “The New Normal” will host the party, which will include the Buzz Bubbler, a real-time social meter that will note what the world thinks of the commercials in the big game. Since all of this is happening real time, Kavanagh also explains, if the camera flashes on to a player on the sidelines, the trivia contest quiz master might quickly ask, “Who is that bench warmer guy?” or something like that.
On average, Zeebox users engage with the site for a half hour. For the Enormous Football Match-Up, they are likely to be around for a lot longer.In the next few weeks after the Clash of the Titans (But Not Featuring a Team Called That), you’ll be seeing invitations to download Zeebox contained in television commercials and on some networks. A Facebook ad campaign for the Super...Colossal TV Event this Sunday begins today.
So it’s a Big Game for Zeebox, all right.