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Miso launches new 'SideShow' social TV publishing tool

Less than two weeks after Miso announced a nice round of funding the San Francisco based company has come to NYC to launch a brand new publishing tool called “SideShow,” a sort of “WordPress” for the second screen that allows anyone — fans, networks, marketers — to publish content tied to what’s on live or recorded TV.

During an exclusive look at the product yesterday, CEO Somrat Niyogi explained how the new tools were built after really thinking and defining what TV is for fans and as an art form. SideShows are being made available now to network parts, and next year will be opened up to everyone as a platform. Miso will also be hosting an exclusive “SideShows University” early next year to educate on making good SideShows across different genres. If you remember or still watch the amazing pop-up music videos on VH1, a similar crowd sourced experience for TV shows is now coming to their app.

First lesson Miso learned – “One size fits all strategy for the second screen doesn’t work.”

Before we dive into what the new publishing tool looks like it’s important to understand how much the company really understands TV. Niyogi described the company’s though process in building this new tool.

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.

Second lesson Miso learned – “TV is an art form.”

Don Day from Boise, Idaha recently made an interesting comment on one of our posts. “There are what — six apps now? — that all do the same thing… I’ve tried most, none of them have much content and don’t make a compelling case for use yet. It will be interesting to see how the space shakes out… and if there is actually a consumer need/demand for this.” Niyogi’s explanation of how Miso is trying to show how TV is art felt like a pretty decent answer to Day’s questions at a time when social TV is still in its early years.

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.

How ‘SideShow’ works:

In short, while you’re tuned into a show you can select to tune into a Miso user’s SideShow. A superfan, network, or blogger might be programming content about the name of an actor in an episode, a dress that a character is wearing, a song that is playing, or an hilarious quote that you wish you jotted down so you could tweet it. The key here is that anyone can create a SideShow, not just the networks or Miso, or as Niyogi described, “a WordPress except applying to TV for the second screen.” To add my own personal two cents as a TV junkie, the reason I’m excited for SideShow is because in the handful of examples Niyogi showed me, he solved three of the small but significant problems that haven’t been solved yet for my own second screen usage.

1. Music – I’m obsessed with Shazaming songs from TV but often by the time I’ve found the app, opened it and Shazamed it, the song isn’t playing anymore. While I can usually pause the programming and rewind, it would be a lot easier if I could just look down at my phone and the song was there. Niyogi showed me an example of a superfan that done this for a song that played for just a second throughout a show so when he watched the program the song was right there. We shouldn’t have to search at all to find songs within TV, they should come right to us and SideShow might be the answer.

2. IMDB - next to music, finding out who that actor is on the screen is the number two thing that causes me to use a second screen during TV. It’s never the major actors that one’s curious about since there always there. It’s the guest stars and those actors that you know you recognize from something else but can’t remember what. Showtime’s Dexter has already been using SideShow to program content for this season and Niyogi showed an example of how the network programmed a piece of content when Edward James Olmos (who plays Professor Gellar) was on screen to link to his IMDB page and mention that he was also in Battlestar Galactica.

3. Amazing quotes – the third thing I always do while watching TV is tweeting funny quotes (mostly lines from Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez). Often, I pause the show and rewind to make sure I get the quote right, or pause to go search Twitter to see if anyone caught it. Niyogi showed how turning this problem over the superfans, the network, or bloggers could easily solve this problem and program a SideShow with the quote ready for me to tweet. The question is if fans and the networks will flock to the publishing platform to create content.

Here’s a video from Miso as well explaining the new tool:

Introducing Miso Sideshows from Miso on Vimeo.

Does Miso have the answer to the future of social TV?

They’re definitely onto something good with this tool. One major thing to remember is that they’ve inked deals with two MSOs (DIRECTV and AT&T’s U-Verse). If you’re a subscriber to either your Miso app syncs with your programming (not by fingerprinting, literally by synching with the MSO’s set-top box technology). There is already an impressive list of networks that have created a SideShow. Showtime, FOX, Food Network, DIRECTV’s Audience Network, Halogen, Science Channel, and CBS Television Distribution. There are also SideShows of for, “programs like Dexter, Bones, Damages, The Next Iron Chef, and many more to come,” according to Miso.

An important feature to note is that Niyogi explained that part of SideShows is to offer you one simple piece of content to look down and potentially engage with as you’re watching linear. Thousands of different SideShows won’t start blowing up your smartphone. The idea is to tune into one SideShow where one piece of content and one piece of content only will pop up at a given moment during a program. Now the question is, if they can get passionate users creating content.

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