Zeebox debuts in the US

MUMBAI: TV viewing companion zeebox has launched in the US in partnership with Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, HBO & Cinemax.

zeebox is 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 company is the brainchild of former EMI executive Ernesto Schmitt and former BBC iPlayer CTO Anthony Rose. It launched in the UK last year. zeebox enables consumers to discover what to watch by browsing comprehensive TV listings, social media and personalized recommendations.

zeebox‘s cloud-based app recognises 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 programmes 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.

zeebox CEO, co-founder Ernesto Schmitt said,"We are proud to launch with this game-changing roster of partners who recognize the importance of fully meeting web-empowered consumer expectations. 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 network partner of zeebox, bringing shows such as ‘Boardwalk Empire‘ and ‘True Blood‘ to the social discovery platform.

NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke said, "We‘re excited to team with zeebox on their US launch. 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".

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit said, "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."

HBO co-president Eric Kessler said, "Our audiences have demonstrated a clear commitment to connecting with HBO and Cinemax programming on a deeper level. 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 per cent of US 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 seven-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

- 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

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

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