BuddyTV Bets the Company That TV Will Go Social on Smartphones and Tablets
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“comment river,” and interact with other fans, as well as writers, actors, and directors on the show while its airs.
“What we’re trying to build is a social TV experience,” Liu says. “We’re going beyond the check-in, to the emotional value to the customer—they can share their emotions experience to the show, and participate with the community, so that feels like they’re always watching in a viewing community.”
So even if you’re sitting alone on the couch while watching your favorite show, you’ve got a community of fellow-watchers at your fingertips.
This may not sound like such a novel idea, but according to Liu, it is different from the services the 20-person BuddyTV team is used to offering. The mobile app, he says, will offer new content and community interaction that isn’t currently available on the website. The website is useful for fans of the show when they’re not already watching, offering photos, articles, and games that let fans “dive deep any time,” Liu says. He adds that the application will provide a “second screen experience” while watching.
“We want to use mobile and tablet devices to aggregate audience around the show as the show is going on,” he says.
Unlike its closest competitor, Wetpaint, Liu doesn’t see this new strategy as a reinvention of the BuddyTV model—he hopes that one day both the consumer fan site, and the mobile platform will be able to bolster each other. He envisions using data and ideas from the comment river to fuel further content on the site.
“We think that consumer fan sites will always be in demand, we just see that there’s even more growth and even more demand for that content on mobile and tablet devices, and we think it’s a different experience,” he says.
Since the app launched on September 28, it has already climbed into the top 10 in the iTunes App Store, and top 12 in entertainment for the iPad. And so far it’s free—and will most likely continue to be. Liu says he hasn’t figured out quite how to monetize it yet, but that he’s leaning toward the advertising model.
“Our medium term is to try to drive as much usage as possible, and then try to drive future models,” he says.
In the meantime, he’s working to ensure that his bet pays off. The mobile strategy is a big risk, he says, because it means BuddyTV is currently building two dual product tracks, with no guarantee that they will both be viable. “We’re not building the same product across all three platforms—mobile, tablet, and web,” he says. “By focusing on mobile and tablet, it takes some resources away from web, which is the majority of our traffic. If the bet doesn’t pay off, we’re actually taking focus off our web, which is our bread and butter.”