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TV Guide launches new app, aims to dominate second screen

The second screen space just got a lot hotter. TV Guide Mobile has just launched its “next-generation, one-stop TV companion app” for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The updated app focuses around their popular Watchlist platform — which enables you to track your favorite shows — and incorporates more social than ever before. TV Guide Mobile’s EVP and General Manager Christy Tanner gave us an inside look at the new features, their approach to social TV within the app and how they’re getting their ad partners involved.

There are plenty of startups trying to edge their way into your living room and second screen. But TV Guide brings with it a huge installed base and years of experience providing a second-screen solution that’s focused on helping you watch TV and not distracting you from it. The major new social update is their “New Tonight Trending, a social hot list based on what TV Guide users are watching.” They’ve also added better filtering features to Watchlist, social check-ins, video search and more.

Why Watchlist has become the focus of the app:

“We consider Watchlist to be a second screen product, that has only been available via browser, over the course of the last TV season,” Tanner told Lost Remote. “We saw traffic rise from 13% to 18% mobile, over a nine month period – that means that the browser based TVGuide.com experience is a second screen experience, our users are using our site during primetime while watching,” she added.

She also talked about how seamless an experience it will be for users who are already using Watchlist. “If you’re one of the 500,000 people who have created online Watchlists, you just have to login and you’ll be able to see your app,” she explained.

How they think differently about the second screen:

“We would define the second screen experience a bit differently than some other companies,” Tanner told Lost Remote. “For us the second screen is a 24/7 business and 24/7 experiences as well as a real-time experience – it’s a key distinction in the way that we look at the viewer experience and the product that we create to go along with it,” she added. We’ve critiqued distracting second screen experiences before, one that’s mission is to avoid that is worth exploring further.

How can you check in with their new social check-in?

We asked Tanner if GetGlue check-ins will be included in the app. “We’d be open to including check-ins [from others],” she explained. “We have our own check-in data, this is really credible data about what people are watching – for the time being, we chose to launch with the biggest most mass market.” The platforms she’s referring to are Facebook and Twitter. GetGlue, meanwhile, has relaunched its app with a focus on discovery, competing more directly with TV Guide.

What role did the fav.tv team play?

In March TVGuide.com ‘acqui-hired’ Fav.TV a social TV startup that helped you track your favorite shows and remind you when they were on. We asked Tanner how big a role the team played in this new app. Tanner described how they were definitely a big part of their larger engineering team’s efforts. “We have a team of twenty engineers and product [people] – when we did the acquihire, they were a three person company, two of the three people are full time employees, they worked really closely with our team,” she explained. She added that, “They were very familiar with working with TV data – just the fact that they had built up expertise in iOS and Android environments, it helps the entire process of building the product – they’re really smart guys.”

“We are only integrating app to app links” – Tanner on watching video from the app.

One of the biggest frustrations from the Olympics apps were the lack of communication between the two. After finding something to watch in the news app, it took you to NBCOlympics.com instead of the live stream within the live stream app. “We have a list of 10 that we’re linking to, we will be adding more sources quickly,” Tanner explained describing the different video sources they’re linking to. “We’re one of the first to integrate Xfinity’s feed – this is a fast growing viewing trend – On-Demand is growing like crazy right now.”

Helping you discover what’s On-Demand and plans for web shows in the future:

An exciting component that proves their expertise in understanding viewing habits is showing you what’s On-Demand on linear. “On-Demand is growing like crazy right now,” Tanner told Lost Remote. “One of the reasons it’s growing really fast is because of this button – this awareness that there’s also this content On-Demand, it’s an area that’s been under discovered,” she added. “Ultimately we want to index all the On-Demand info for every MPVD.”

Regarding web shows we discussed how there’s still a problem with the fact that there’s no good data set to organize, like linear has. “Web shows, is something we’re working on – the ability to add web shows to your Watchlist – we will be integrating in 6-9 months,” she explained.

Guest curators and sponsor integrations:

“We’re going to have guest curators for these channels,” Tanner told Lost Remote. We’ve also received exclusively, a screen shot of their sponsored Watchlist ad (above) for Arrow, a new CW show.

The updated TV Guide app for iOS is available here.

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