GetGlue is set to push out a major update of its social TV app later this summer. The new version, GetGlue HD, aims to take the second-screen experience up a notch by layering video clips and advanced discovery tools on top of the app's legacy check-ins and social chatter. The result is a more comprehensive guide to what's on television, who's watching and what to tune into next.
GetGlue first launched as a sort of Foursquare for TV, allowing users to check in to TV shows, movies, music and other forms of entertainment. Just as users can announce their geographic location with a Foursquare check-in, they can let friends and followers on GetGlue know what show, movie, album or book currently has their attention. "A check-in is a way to seed the conversation," Fraser Kelton, the company's COO, said in an interview a few months ago. "Over the past year, the amount of conversation that happens after a check-in has increased dramatically." From there, users can converse with one another, build up their taste profile for GetGlue's recommendation engine and unlock virtual stickers.
Evolving Beyond the Check-In
All by itself, the act of checking in to a TV show has a limited value to audience members taking advantage of a second screen to engage in social messaging, track real-time poll results, search the Internet, and so on. Sure, you can unlock shiny stickers (the equivalent of badges in Foursquare), but then what? To keep viewers engaged, second-screen apps need to weave in related content, trivia and social interactions.
So GetGlue is evolving beyond the check-in. The check-in functionality isn't going away, but it will become less central as the app grows in new directions. The new version will flesh out the app with related multimedia and beefed-up content discovery features. Using your viewing habits (which GetGlue gleans from likes and check-ins), the new app will recommend upcoming shows and list showtimes for movies. It's a 21st Century TV Guide, but with a social twist.
Cutting Through the Second-Screen Noise
Second-screen activity offers the audience a host of new options that enrich the viewing experience, but it also creates an increasing background noise level that makes it hard for TV vieweres to do what they sat down to do in the first place: watch the show. The second-screen trend has been picking up steam as smartphones and tablets proliferate. According to a recent Nielsen, 86% of smartphone owners say they use their devices while watching TV at least once per month. The phenomenon includes check-in services, digital TV guides, apps that bring in supplementary content, and ones that focus on social conversation. On top of that, networks are creating their own second-screen supplements for individual shows, such as AMC's Breaking Bad Story Sync.
GetGlue hopes to streamline the fractured experience of jumping from app to app by bringing all of the major forms of second-screen activity into a single interface. It's an ambitious goal, but GetGlue seems fairly well position to take a crack at it. The service recently surpassed 3 million users and recent data shows that the number of check-ins is growing substantially. It's still a tiny fraction of the overall television-watching population, but the battle for what's left of viewers' attention spans is only beginning.