Peel expands second screen to reality TV voting

Krystal Peak · March 12, 2012 · Short URL:

As more viewers search for a voice, Peel finds a way to get real-time viewer interaction


An app that turns your iPhone into a television remote has now expanded its entertainment interaction to becoming part of the virtual audience -- filled with cheers and boos.

Peel, which was launched as a whole new type of TV guide, unveiled Monday a new level of social interaction at SXSW. Now, on top of checking into television programs, getting suggestions on new content and using your phone as a remote, the mobile app will also allow viewers to respond to programing with boos and cheers.

The young startup, founded in 2009, has raised more than $24 million in VC funding and is looking to expand what people consider doable in the second-screen world.

Traditionally, the second screen experience encourages TV viewers to log into social networking platforms such as Miso or GetGlue and check-in to a program so that they can win points, bags, or real products and then comment, share and learn more about the programs that they love.

One of the ways that Peel is imaging on expanding on the social world of second screen interaction is by adding public responses to popular reality talent shows such as American Idol

When people check-in that they are watching American Idol, or the like, Peel will be able to track the real-time responses of the public to various performances and judge criticisms by letting users "boo" or "cheer" with a simple click. Peel will also link users to iTunes for instant purchases. This makes the reality talent show responses even more rapid that the several hour response time that are already in place via phone call, Twitter or text.

While Peel has not announced any official partnerships with any of these voice competition shows or others, the company is showing that there is yet another level of social  interaction that marketers, programers and content creators could capitalize on -- essentially creating a huge pool to track, gain insight from and advertise to. 

If Peel shows enough traction with an audience, it could become the next way for people to contribute in polls, change the course of live TV or vote for their favorite competitors.

This announcement also helps bring greater awareness to the "Fruit" device that turns the iPhone into an universal remote. The "Fruit" is an external device that wirelessly connects an iPhone to your cable box and costs $99. 

One of the eventual evolutions that Peel imagines from its service is the ability to one day connect more advanced advertising and campaign possibilities to TV programming so that you can purchase a character's outfit or travel to the same hotel shown in a show.

The real challenge would be to see how many people want to sign in and interact with their favorite program and if there is enough of an incentive to get viewer to give so much feedback. The company is also working on bringing the live engagement platform to its Android apps within the next few months.

Redpoint Ventures, which has also invested in TiVo and Netflix, previously contributed to Peel’s undisclosed Series A round of funding. Prior to that, the company raised seed funding from Michael Dearing from Harrison Metal, Mitch Kapor from Kapor Capital, and Steve Anderson from Baseline Ventures.


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