zeebox second screen TV companion crosses the Atlantic, with a boost from Comcast and HBO

While it seems like every network is rolling out its own personal second screen app for tablets and / or phones, over in the UK Zeebox has been trying to corner the experience across channels and providers with its app. Available as an app for iOS and Android and also on the web, it brings a customized TV guide, live chat, social network sharing and remote control features to the TV experience, and now it's come to the US. Other than the typical second screen experience, its main hook is an "OpenBox" API and tags that allow content providers to customize the experience for their viewers... and then sell them stuff like video on-demand or related merchandise.

On this side of the Atlantic Zeebox has secured backing from Comcast / NBC Universal, giving it financial and promotional support as well as covering more than 30 networks right away. It also means it can eventually act as a remote control for Comcast users, which may be an advantage over competition like Miso, GetGlue and IntoNow, and can flex its muscles paired with hundreds of shows like The Voice, Notre Dame football and HBO content like True Blood. Out of the box, the app's social ties and careful metering may be a programmer's dream as it monitors who is watching what live, but we'll have to see more of the second screen content come to life if it's going to catch on socially. A customizable guide (yes, you can hide or reorder channels at will) is a nice touch and so is being able to see what your friends are viewing with Facebook Open Graph and Twitter hooks -- but only if they're actually using it. If you want to check it out, the free apps are linked below and the full press release follows after the break.

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zeebox Makes U.S. Debut with Game-changing TV Companion Experience; Launches for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and the Web

zeebox inks deals with Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO & Cinemax across more than 30 TV networks for Highly Anticipated U.S. Debut

New York; September 27, 2012- zeebox, the premier TV viewing companion, today launched its highly anticipated experience in the U.S. in partnership with many of the most influential media companies in television. In an unprecedented alliance, Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO & Cinemax are all teaming with zeebox in a first-of-its-kind endorsement of a universal, cross-channel TV viewing companion app for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android, and the Web. This marks an important beginning, with further partners expected to be invited in due course.

The brainchild of former EMI executive Ernesto Schmitt and former BBC iPlayer CTO Anthony Rose, zeebox has led global innovation in the market of TV companion apps since launching in the UK in 2011. zeebox uniquely enables consumers to discover what to watch by browsing comprehensive TV listings, social media and personalized recommendations.

zeebox's cloud-based app recognizes the context of what its users are watching and enhances the viewing experience with relevant content and experiences from across the Web, TV programmers, social networks and advertisers. Viewers can engage with their favorite television personalities directly through zeebox and even buy the products they see on TV. zeebox also automatically displays more in-depth information about the programs as viewers are watching.

Through their strategic partnerships, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal are taking the lead in the TV viewing companion app market by bringing their customers and tens of millions of viewers across hundreds of channels.

"We are proud to launch with this game-changing roster of partners who recognize the importance of fully meeting web-empowered consumer expectations," said Ernesto Schmitt, CEO and co-founder of zeebox. "As consumers continue to flock to social media and the web to experience a program beyond what is on the screen, zeebox gives content owners and programmers a direct line of communication, feedback and engagement that has never before been possible."

As strategic launch partners, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal are backing zeebox with investments and promotional support, and are preparing to enhance hundreds of their top TV shows on zeebox, including the likes of The Voice and Notre Dame Football. zeebox's revolutionary OpenBox API allows content owners to enhance their shows and channels on the zeebox app in a matter of hours, distributing exclusive content to consumers, connecting directly with fans through live interactions and social engagement, and monetizing the second screen alongside TV commercials through synchronized, targeted, relevant advertising and affiliate links.

HBO is the exclusive premiere network partner of zeebox, bringing highly acclaimed and award-winning programming such as Boardwalk Empire and True Blood to the social discovery platform as well as originals like Strike Back from sister network, Cinemax.

"We're excited to team with zeebox on their US launch" said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. "As the Olympics demonstrated, the second screen experience has become an increasingly important platform to engage audiences. We think the zeebox technology presents tremendous opportunities for our viewers and our advertisers"

Said Neil Smit, CEO of Comcast Cable, "zeebox is a really compelling second-screen companion viewing platform, and we're excited to join such a strong group of industry partners in its launch. zeebox will offer a unique nationwide TV companion experience that will make viewing live TV more engaging, compelling and fun."

"Our audiences have demonstrated a clear commitment to connecting with HBO and Cinemax programming on a deeper level," said Eric Kessler, HBO Co-President. "zeebox offers a unique, comprehensive platform that drives discovery, engagement and conversation around our most beloved programs and stars."

zeebox's proprietary consumer research confirms that up to 70% of U.S. television viewers are interested in the unique feature set that zeebox provides. In the past year, the market for second-screen TV apps has been evolving rapidly but remains highly fragmented. Consumers today are using different apps and web services for discovery, social engagement and interactivity. zeebox brings all these features together in a single app that drives increased viewership of programming by making the live TV experience even more compelling.

zeebox launches with features including:

- A comprehensive 7-day TV program guide across all major US TV channels, enabling the configuration of customized channel line ups and booking of future TV show reminders

- Integration with Facebook and Twitter to enable social discovery of TV content, and engagement with friends and celebrities across live TV

- In-depth information about shows, talent, topics and products mentioned on TV – synchronized second by second with the live show

- Ecommerce links to relevant digital and physical products related to shows and the content of shows, with direct links to VOD content to come in the near future

- Optimized for the new iPhone 5, four-inch Retina display and on iOS 6 including Smart App downloads within zeebox and Facebook single sign on

The zeebox app is available for free from the App Store on IPhone, iPad, and iPod touch or at
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/zeebox/id513267737?ls=1&mt=8

The Web version is available at zeebox.com.

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