The ‘second screen’ social TV app market was full of promise a couple of years ago, but previously hot contenders have struggled and folded, or – as with GetGlue and i.TV, merged and relaunched. We haven’t heard much from once-hyped Zeebox of late, and it turns out that was for good reason; it’s been planning a relaunch of its own.
From today, the Zeebox name is no more. Instead the startup has pivoted to become Beamly, a ‘social network for TV’ aimed at women under the age of 35.
The new apps and website allow users to follow shows and stars to receive personalized news. They can also find and follow other fans, who they can chat with in show-specific ‘TV Rooms’. As with Zeebox, there’s also a personalized TV viewing guide and custom interactive experiences tied to specific shows, created in partnership with show producers.
Essentially, Beamly takes Zeebox’s features and repackages them, tweaking them for what became the old app’s largest audience. Jason Forbes, EVP and MD of UK-based Beamly’s US operation tells us that while Zeebox was built to prioritize real-time engagement during a show, most people preferred to use the TV Rooms feature to discuss it before and after watching.
Forbes tells us that the name change has tested well with young women. A common misconception, apparently, was that ‘Zeebox’ was a German rival to Microsoft’s Xbox, rather than a social TV app. Meanwhile, we’re told that the redesigned app has resulted in a ninefold increase in visits to Beamly over Zeebox in the testing phase.
To encourage users to give it a try, Beamly has signed up more than 100 ‘influencers’ from social media such as YouTube (including the likes of Tyler Oakley and Kalel Cullen) to engage with users within the app.
Forbes insists that a shift to networking before and after shows doesn’t mean it’s abandoning interactive second screen experiences. Indeed, there will be plenty of activity there from media giants like NBCU and Viacom within Beamly in the coming weeks.
Beamly is live now in the US, UK and Australia on iOS, Android and the Web. A Windows Phone version is coming soon.