Social TV app Zeebox received a lot of attention last year as it rolled out across the US, Australia and Ireland, and yet until now it’s only been useful if you’re watching a show at the time it’s being transmitted. A new deal with media data company Gracenote may change that, as it’s set to equip the app with the ability to automatically detect the show you’re watching. This opens Zeebox up for use by ‘cordcutters’ and others who watch timeshifted TV.

Zeebox is set to integrate Gracenote’s Entourage automatic content recognition system, which uses audio fingerprinting to allow apps running on smartphone and tablets to identify content after ‘listening’ to its audio for a few seconds. This will allow Zeebox to constantly  monitor the audio of the show you’re watching, ensuring that it always shows relevant complementary content.

Zeebox allows users to see current tweets about the show they’re watching, along with related links and news, information and credits, and dynamic ‘Zeetags’ that helps users find out more about what ‘s being mentioned on the show real-time. An API allows broadcasters to create bespoke experiences tailored to specific shows.

The app, from a UK-based team that counts former BBC iPlayer chief Anthony Rose as its CTO, has suffered from not offering enough utility to keep users coming back, although that’s slowly changing. The ability to change channels on Sky+ and Virgin Media TiVo boxes in the UK along with 20 million Comcast set top boxes in the US has turned it into a ‘social remote control,’ for example.

Its reliance on broadcast TV was always a potential stumbling block in a world of increasingly timeshifted viewing patterns. When a future update integrates Gracenote’s technology, the app will be able to seek out an audience amongst those who use PVRs and online catchup services.

It’s worth watching our interview with Gracenote President Stephen White, and listening to our chat with Zeebox’s CTO Anthony Rose, both from last year.

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