How Second Screen Apps Are Looking to Make the Super Bowl More Interactive

Roughly 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots in the 2012 Super Bowl, and although some predict this year’s game won’t surpass that, the game is sure to generate some buzz, both online and off. With 51 percent of viewers tuning in just for the ads, and each ad costing almost $4 million, advertisers and fans alike are betting on people discussing the game, ads, and Beyonce’s half-time show, not just on Twitter, but on emerging apps.

According to International Data Corp. (IDC), 52 million tablets were sold this past holiday season alone. Going along with that trend of tablet adoption, second screen startups like GetGlue, zeebox, and others are out to change the way individuals watch and interact with live TV in a major way.

Though the merger with Viggle didn’t go through, GetGlue continues to steam ahead, having already surpassed four million registered users for its app, which lets people check-in to their favourite shows. For Super Bowl 2013, the company has partnered with Hulu to enable GetGlue users to check-in to Super Bowl ads, with an embedded video player on its Super Bowl pages for a chance to win a free month of Hulu Plus. Users will also be able to earn Hulu Super Bowl ad stickers that reward them for when they check-in throughout the game, including the Coming Soon AdZone sticker and the 4th Quarter sticker.

“We’re kicking off a broader partnership between two companies. The specific focus around Super Bowl is to reward fans for when they check-in…in addition we’re one of the few places that will syndicate all Super Bowl ads through Hulu. We’ve embedded their player…so fans will be able to watch ads right on our site and our mobile apps,” said GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold in an interview with BetaKit.

GetGlue is also introducing a new way for brands and entertainment producers to connect with viewers, beginning this Super Bowl Sunday. Akin to native advertising trends and Promoted Tweets, the company is introducing Promoted Entries, starting with a partnership with Pepsi. For brands who associate themselves with a given television show, it provides them ability to reach a targeted audience by placing their updates at the top of a user’s GetGlue stream.

Another startup BetaKit has covered in the past is zeebox, which launched in the U.S. last year thanks in part to equity investment and major partnerships with media powerhouses NBCUniversal and Comcast. Having already provided second screen content for hundreds of NBC shows and events the likes of the Golden Globes, Miss Universe, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, the company is out to do the same this Sunday.

It will be hosting a virtual viewing party for the Super Bowl, looking to engage both sport fans and those just watching for the commercials and half-time show. Users of zeebox will be able to chat with each other, vote on their favorite commercials, and answer trivia questions. For those that care more about touchdowns than commercials, there will also be real-time game stats and player data, including lineups and playing cards.

Jen Kavanagh, SVP of Marketing at zeebox, spoke with BetaKit about the company’s approach, which targets pop culture junkies more than diehard sports fans. “We took a bit of a different direction and said let’s put a pop-culture overlay onto the experience and create customized features that would appeal not only to the sport fan but also for the people in it for the half-time show and commercials,” said Kavanagh in an interview.

There are also other startups focused exclusively on sports fans like SportStream that Super Bowl fans should also be sure to check out. But unlike SportsStream, which focuses only on sporting events, second screen apps have started to provide custom content for all kinds of big TV events, with Peel debuting a special app for the 2012 U.S. presidential debates. The second screen and platforms like Twitter have continued to prove that rather than being passive audience members, people much rather prefer viewing live TV, especially events as big as the Super Bowl, while interacting online. Regardless of who listens, everyone wants a say in which ad will take the cake this weekend, as well as which team will come out on top.


Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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