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This article was published on March 20, 2012

Zeebox brings social payments and voting to its ‘second screen’ TV platform

Zeebox brings social payments and voting to its ‘second screen’ TV platform
Paul Sawers
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Paul Sawers

Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.

Mobile Interactive Group (MIG) has announced it has teamed up with Zeebox which will see MIG integrate interactive social payments and voting features into the social TV app, letting users buy what they see on screen, and also vote for a contestant in their favourite TV talent shows.

We’ve written extensively about Zeebox before, the UK-based social TV platform for desktop and mobile, that recently saw 15,000 new users per hour.

Launched in October 2011, with former iPlayer CTO Anthony Rose part of the founding team, the company entered a strategic partnership with BSkyB back in January, gaining the satellite TV giant 10% of the company, which will see Sky become the only TV platform in the UK to integrate Zeebox’s technology into its own applications later this year.

With TV increasingly becoming a more ‘social’ experience, the big challenge moving forward for broadcasters is how they can build additional monetization streams into their services, and this latest move certainly goes some way towards helping this. The idea is that when you’re watching a TV show, you’ll be sitting there with your second screen in your hand (e.g. iPad or iPhone), which will enable you to interact with your friends around the show and, now, with the programme itself though social payments and voting.

Back in February, Zeebox rolled out a new click-to-buy feature across its apps, allowing users to buy products they see advertised on TV, so this latest integration builds on this by better enabling broadcasters to monetize their content.

“Broadcasters and programme-makers are embracing second-screen apps to bring social media and interactivity to their programmes,” says Rose. “But spending time and money creating an app for each programme, and for viewers having to find and download an app each time they change channel, isn’t sustainable or scalable. Zeebox changes that, providing a plug-in architecture that allows broadcasters and programme makers to provide enhanced experiences, delivered within Zeebox, easily and at low cost. We’re delighted to be working with MIG to integrate their Engage platform with Zeebox, providing broadcasters with new audiences and revenue streams.”

Yesterday we covered the launch of Tweek, a new social TV recommendation app for iPad, which one of the co-founders says actually complements what Zeebox is already doing. “Zeebox is doing a good job in the UK just now,” said co-founder Sven Koerbitz. “Basically, where they start, that’s where we end. They are more focusing on the interaction part, whilst watching TV.”

Indeed, so whilst Zeebox is more about watching in real-time with friends, and ‘chatting’ about what you’re watching, Tweek focuses more on the recommendation and discovery side of things.

MIG has a solid understanding of the media and broadcasting industry in the UK, having built partnerships with ITV, Endemol, FremantleMedia and Channel Five. So this tie-up will help MIG from a data perspective, as it advises its clients on how consumer habits are changing to adapt to emerging technology.

“Zeebox has an innovative approach that is revolutionizing the way viewers consume content related to television,” says Barry Houlihan, general manager of MIG. “The integration with our interactive social payments and voting solution, Engage, adds new potential, on platforms such as Facebook, iTunes and global Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) for both themselves and their broadcast partners, whilst further enhancing the viewer’s immersive experience from the virtual couch.

The Zeebox app is currently available on iPhone, iPad and on the Web, and it will launch on Android the coming months.  Zeebox is only available in the UK for the moment, but international expansion is on the horizon.