The Peel app is unveiling the next step for social TV this week with the debut of a second-screen engagement platform for the upcoming episodes of American Idol.
The new feature takes social TV beyond checking in to programming by letting users interact with specific shows and other viewers in real time. It’s a significant advance in the emerging space. Peel’s new platform will initially only be available for iOS users and American Idol watchers, but expect Android owners and fans of other shows to be able to get in on the fun before long.
Founded in 2009, Peel is a free app that lets friends share favorite shows and guilty pleasure with one another, and recommends new shows based on what you watch and like. Its investors include big names such as Redpoint Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. Many see social apps and second-screen experiences soon coming to dominate the way programming is discovered and enjoyed over the coming years.
“Now it is content on your big screen and content on your second screen literally playing back and forth with content that’s being authored by you and by your friends,” Peel co-founder and chief product officer Bala Krishnan told Mashable.
Here’s how Peel’s new platform works with American Idol. When contestants perform, their photos will pop up above a bar registering positive and negative sentiment (see photo). To the left of that bar will be a button on your screen to “boo,” and to the right a button to “cheer.” You can tap each button as much as you want to during the performance and they will register how many cheers and boos you record during the song’s highs and lows. Then the bar in the middle will reflect the overall sentiment the performer has inspired.
The same set-up will apply to Idol judges as they critique contestant performances. A separate tab shows how everyone stacks up in crowd sentiment. While this is a pretty cool new social advance, it’s just a baby step for the space long-term.
“We think we’re still just in the first inning here as far as what social TV is capable of,” Peel’s vice president of marketing Scott Ellis said in an interview.
Ellis says the company is eager to apply its platform to additional shows soon, most likely expanding at first to other competition-based reality shows, which are a natural fit for the current model. But he’s also optimistic Peel will be able to include real-life programming, including the Summer Olympics and 2012 election, later this year.
Co-founder and CEO Thiru Arunachalam told Mashable peel and similar apps will forever change the way people watch TV, phase out the traditional TV programming guide.
Mashable got a first hand look at what Peel’s new engagement platform, and it’s very promising. It has obvious addictive potential, is simple and intuitive to use, and has a clean interface. But the coolest part? As Ellis said, it’s only “the first inning” of what social TV will become. Expect more innovations in this field in the near future.