The iTV Doctor Reviews: Second-Screen Apps at the Grammys

Dear Readers:

Last week we looked at the iPhone apps that Shazam did for the 111 million viewers of the Super Bowl. This week we'll look at more iPhone providers for a slightly smaller (44 million viewers) audience: the Grammys that aired on CBS Sunday, February 12th. We'll take a look at the work of GetGlue, IntoNow, Miso, Shazam and Viggle.

First, a disclaimer. I watched the Grammys live, and I quickly figured out that keeping track of five different iPhone applications was virtually impossible in real time. So I dipped into enough apps to get a sense of what each provider was doing, made a few notes, and dove into the DVR Monday morning (that's for you smart alecs who look at the screen shots below and notice the morning clock settings).

So let's get right into the reviews, in alphabetical order:

GetGlue: Unlike the other second-screen apps reviewed herein, GetGlue required that I check-in manually. No automatic content recognition (ACR) here. Now I've used GetGlue previously, and was awarded a few "stickers," GetGlue's user/viewer rewards system. As I check into GetGlue, I earn stickers that are posted on my profile for all my friends to see. When I earn 20 or so, I can request printed stickers to put on my algebra book cover.

GetGlue is primarily a social site, with the ability to follow and chat with your friends, and share the occasional YouTube video. GetGlue encourages their members to check in for TV, movies, music, books, magazines, video games and things I might be thinking about. Checking in for the Grammys brought up the appropriate graphics but that was about it.

Of course, big fingers and small keyboards can lead to a bit of misdirection, as when I typed "Grannys" instead of "Grammys," and was logged into the hit show "Grannies on Safari."

But as a social site, if the whole sticker thing appeals to you, GetGlue worked well. There was a lot of lively conversation during the broadcast.

Overall GetGlue Grade: C+

IntoNow: We've visited with IntoNow previously, at the 2011 San Francisco TV of Tomorrow conference, and again in a column last November (

IntoNow is classic ACR (Wow! Can we say that, inasmuch as automatic content recognition is less than two years old?). You open the application, touch the green screen icon and watch the rainbow bars jump up and down while the application LISTENS to what you're watching. It's very slick, and although it has been dubbed a "party trick," content makes it real. IntoNow has heretofore focused on the more robust iPad platform, and their iPhone content is still limited--mostly social interaction with other viewers.

So IntoNow sorta looks like GetGlue with ACR, but without the stickers. And although IntoNow generally was able to identify that I was watching the Grammys, it ran into a snag with Taylor Swift's performance of "Mean." IntoNow told me I was watching Country Music Television. A more serious faux pas came towards the end of the telecast when IntoNow told me I was watching multi-Grammy-winner Adele on "Live from the Artists Den," a PBS program that Hulu apparently got their hands on.

Overall IntoNow Grade: B-

Miso: We had Miso founder and CEO Somrat Niyogi on our panel at TVOT NYC Intensive last December. Miso is in the small corner of DISTRIBUTOR-FRIENDLY providers--their application (which requires a WiFi connection) creates a handshake with the set-top box (in my case, it's DirecTV), and "reads" data from the set-top box to determine what I'm watching.

In addition, Miso has developed what they call "SideShows" to complement television viewing. In fact, they're encouraging third-party developers to use their platform to push the envelope. And that's great news: a few years ago some of us dreamed about a day when the best stuff on (or beside) television would come from some kid working in his parents' garage in Hauppauge, Long Island.

Not only did Miso have an extensive "SideShow" for the Grammys, they had a sponsor! (Hyundai.) Here's how they described the program in a pre-show press release:

"Fans will receive rich multimedia content during key moments of the awards show from trivia, polls, music and more while engaging with the brand. Viewers will also be able to unlock other social activities such as the sponsored check-in on iPhone and Web and sponsored badge for their Miso profile. The unique second-screen experience is a part of a larger initiative that ties together Hyundai's dynamic and exciting campaign through an online, interactive and mobile experience."

I used the application, and while it was broadly entertaining, it didn't have a lot of detail about specific artists and performers. For example, I would have loved to know who all the guitar players were at the end of the evening (playing with Paul McCartney), but that data was not forthcoming from any provider. But since Miso knew I was still watching the Grammys, without my needing to keep checking in, they had the best shot at pushing me relevant information over the course of the broadcast. Given the hundreds of commercial bloggers who were following the show, it would have been easy to pick one and keep viewers informed.

Overall Miso Grade: B+

Shazam: It would appear that Shazam focused most of their energy (appropriately) on the 111 Million Super Bowl viewers, with their dozens of enabled ads and events throughout the big game. Nonetheless, Shazam was a presence at the Grammys.

Using classic ACR, Shazam invites the viewer to click the Shazam icon to interact. The Shazam content was a nice complement to the official CBS/Grammys site they linked to. Shazam had an ongoing tracking of live performances (but no listing of all those guitar players!), behind-the-scenes video and an easy way to purchase the nominated and winning songs on iTunes (more about that later). And the official Grammys site brought us videos, photos, trivia, winner lists and more. The only annoying part was that I had to keep switching from the Shazam content to the CBS content and back again. A little integration might be in order next time.

And speaking of integration, Shazam stumbled over one of the bumps in the second-screen road that we've previously written about: commercial conflicts between content on the big screen and the second screen. After Adele's astonishing performance of "Rolling in the Deep," CBS ran a perfectly timed ad for Target, as a place to buy Adele's "21" album. Sweet commercial, actually--those kids singing on the school bus. But when I "Shazamed" (that's apparently a verb in Terra Shazama), I was directed to the iTunes page to buy the album. Oops.

The same thing happened in a Target commercial for the "Breaking Dawn" soundtrack, featuring Bruno Mars. Just as the television commercial was sending me to Target, Shazam was sending me to iTunes.

All that notwithstanding, Shazam continued with winning ways with rich and entertaining content, and a smooth, intuitive interface.

Overall Shazam Grade: A-

Viggle: A newer player (in a space that seems to generate a new player every week), Viggle takes the GetGlue badge concept one step further: they actually reward viewers with commercial gift cards for viewing. Without dating myself (hell with it--I'll date myself), this harkens back to the promotions we ran at Showtime in the early 1980's, entitled "Watch and Win."

Viggle uses ACR to identify the program with your check-in. Users can see the latest chatter (tweets) about the program, and promotion for upcoming shows. And (I love this!) they are linking over to IMDb for detail on any program's cast, plotlines, viewer reviews and more. They also had a "Viggle Live" engagement (in partnership with Bing) that allows viewers to play along with the live broadcast.

But most uniquely, Viggle awards points for checking in (and even more points for watching sponsored movie trailers and tune-in spots), and those points can be redeemed for gift cards and merchandise. I only fired up Viggle on Sunday, and I'm already halfway to a $5 Starbucks gift card. Viggle has also engaged 1-800 Flowers, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Target, Burger King, Covenant House (donations), Sephora, Fandango, Foot Locker, Lowes, Hulu Plus, Papa John's and more.

During the Grammys broadcast, users could earn up to 10,000 bonus points for answering trivia questions, participating in polls and correctly guessing the winners of key awards. For a mere 175,000 points I can get an Amazon Kindle. At the rate I'm going, I would earn that in about four months.

I wonder if the Viggle folks have actually done the math on heavy users?/

Overall Viggle Grade: B+

So that's about it from your friendly neighborhood iTV Doctor. We'll keep an eye out for developments in the second-screen space, and report back.



The iTV Doctor is *Rick Howe*, who provides interactive television consulting services to programmers and advertisers. He is the recipient of a CTAM Tami Award for retention marketing and this year was nominated to Cable Pioneers. He is also the co-author of a patent for the use of multiscreen mosaics in EPG's. Endorsed by top cable and satellite distributors, "Dr" Howe still makes house calls, and the first visit is always free. His services include product development, distribution strategy and the development of low-cost interactive applications for rapid deployment across all platforms. Have a question for the iTV Doctor? Email him at

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