'Social' TV app Zeebox goes live
iPlayer guru's next big thing
As of this morning anyone can try Zeebox, the new interactive TV venture from Anthony Rose. Rose rescued the BBC's iPlayer and was chief techie behind YouView, formerly Project Canvas – prior to that he was Kazaa's CTO.
Zeebox works both as a TV remote control and a mobile app, providing a backchannel to live TV via the web. An iPad Zeebox app is available for immediate download, with more mobile versions to follow. Virgin isn't yet fully supported, but it can be used with FreeView and Sky.
The idea of interactive feedback isn't new: Tellybug already does a clapometer for shows such as The X-Factor and Britain's Got Talent. But the Zeebox can do quite a bit more than chat and real-time feedback. It knows what's on TV. It can also be left running, aggregating data the company hopes will be useful to advertisers and TV companies.
If the remote works as promised – we haven't tried it yet – it stands a good chance of becoming a valuable business, as the main portal for the "second screen", with people engaging via laptops or mobile devices while they watch TV. People already do this, but it's messy. And in the future it isn't hard to imagine people flipping through tags on a mobile, rather than channel surfing, to see what's on.
A bit of Zeebox
It's some way short of being the perfect TV app – that would record shows for later and allow you to retrieve them – but it is very well done.
You can start here. ®
I agree with you most of the way. It isn't just the ads themselves that put me off TV and services like this, but all the guff that happens before and after the ad breaks: trailers, trailers and more trailers. It used to be that you only ever saw traillers between the programmes, not during them. It got to a point that the ad/trailer break lasted about 7 minutes, and I'd almost forgotten what programme I was watching!
I've seen this in person already, frankly it is really rather cool. They've kept the balance between advertising, information and social well managed so far. You can see information relating to a broadcast programme (IMDB, etc), you can see the social graph of a programme and you can see a few related product adverts. I don't think it is intrusive, it isn't like "Guide+" that is for sure!
I'll happily try it out, when it comes to non-i devices.
Any application designed to ram even more "purchasing choices"—on my planet, that's called "advertising"—on me while I'm trying to watch a f*cking TV programme already saturated with ads is of no interest to me. Do we get the option to remove the latter? If so, then I could understand why people might want it, and this could well be a more viable channel for advertising than traditional ad breaks. But that doesn't appear to be the case.
I suspect the ad-mongers will prefer to have both, instead of improving the viewers' experience. And, as long as I'm having to suffer through ad breaks, my interest in being served with yet more "sales opportunities" is precisely $NaN.
Furthermore: It's *television*, for f*ck's sake! This is, for the most part, a passive, linear medium.
Any TV programme that can't keep me riveted to the TV isn't a TV programme I'm likely to be interested in watching in the first place: It fails the first rule of TV: "Keep the viewer hooked." If it's so easy to distract me from the story you're telling, you're not telling it right. If I'm willing to let the programme burble on while I distract myself with IMDB lookups and app purchases, what does that say about the quality of the TV programme itself?
Sure, if it's a news item, or one of the many, tiresome "reality" shows (which appear to be ironically named as such), then there might be some benefit, but for a BBC Natural History programme? For a movie? For a modern TV serial shot at such a pace that if you blink, you'll miss half the plot exposition? I suspect not.