As Yahoo buys IntoNow, will Facebook and Twitter also acquire social TV apps?

As Yahoo buys IntoNow, will Facebook and Twitter also acquire social TV apps?

TV check-in apps have an interesting future, and as we noted last week there are lots of directions they could go in. Now one of the most interesting examples out there, IntoNow, has been snapped up by Yahoo to bolster its media offering.

Launched in January, IntoNow is an iPhone app that uses a technology called SoundPrint to listen to the TV show that’s currently playing and, in just a few seconds, identify the show and episode, allowing you to share that information with your friends.

So, what’s Yahoo going to do with IntoNow? Neglect it for a few years before ‘sunsetting’ it? Yeah, yeah – that’s an easy joke, but the official word in the press release announcing the move is that: “The addition of IntoNow will enable Yahoo! to provide enhanced media experiences and video programming, bolstering its social engagement across the Yahoo! network and on all screens.”

So, where does that leave the other media check-in apps? Get Glue and Miso are the best known, while other players like Tunerfish and TVtak are also in the game to varying extents. Interestingly, TechCrunch reports that Twitter and Facebook were both bidding for IntoNow. Might they now be looking into buying one of its rivals?

The appeal to both companies is clear. Twitter would have been a particularly interesting proposition. Imagine the company’s mobile apps being able to automatically work out what TV show you’re watching and adding a metatag to your tweets about it, similar to the way you can add your location. Tweeting while watching TV is a popular pastime and there’s plenty of value to be extracted from pulling the two activities closer together.  Facebook, meanwhile, could have integrated IntoNow data into Pages related to TV shows, and if your friends were currently watching Glee, for example, it could show up in your feed.

There’s lots of money to be made from closer ties between social media and broadcasting – something that will become especially important when your TV can run apps that mesh with the shows you’re watching.

The big problem: IntoNow was easy, Get Glue and Miso are harder

IntoNow has a clear advantage over its biggest rivals. Yahoo has just got its hands on the app allows you to check in to shows with a single touch of the screen. Because it uses audio to identify the show, it’s relatively frictionless. Typing in a show name, as you have to with Get Glue and Miso, is slower and has problems like duplicate or similar show listings and the fact that you have to actually know the name of the show you’re watching. The only solution I’ve seen that could potentially beat IntoNow for ease of use is TVtak, which uses image recognition from a photograph of the screen, but that’s still at an early stage and is launching first only in Israel.

So, while Facebook and Twitter may be interested in buying media check-in apps, they just lost out on what’s currently the most user-friendly of the bunch.

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