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NBC debuts ‘second screen’ social TV app

While a couple networks have launched companion apps for individual TV shows, NBC has launched a “second screen” app for the network. The NBC Live iPad app (iTunes) integrates synchronized quizzes, fun facts, behind-the-scenes nuggets and conversations. It works on selected TV shows, and we took it for a spin with last night’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

Quizzes popped up on the screen with a “ping” and 30 seconds to answer the question. They were interesting additions the the show (did you know Meat Loaf has had 17 concussions?), but at one point, the timing missed the mark. “How did you think the men’s presentation went,” the app asked, just as the men were taking the stage (and I was watching live, over-the-air TV).

Once you create an account, you can jump into the discussion. Instead of pulling in conversations by Twitter hashtag or keywords, it sticks to people logged into the app. As a brand new app, that meant a moderator, me and one other person participating in the West Coast broadcast, for a total of three. You can choose to post to Twitter or Facebook, or just the app. You can also follow or block people in the app. My favorite feature, as a left coaster: you can filter by time zone.

In this case, the moderator carried the conversation, but the approach has promise. Twitter hashtags are still hit-and-miss with TV shows (although more shows are giving it a try), so the result is often a scattered discussion. The filtered, time-zone-appropriate environment of the NBC Live app — if it can gain more momentum — could be refreshing.

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