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Summary:

AT&T is making a big push to enable its U-verse subscribers to engage with shows through social TV apps. By partnering with BuddyTV, Miso, TV Foundry and WayIn, U-verse users will be able to chat, take polls and get personalized TV recommendations without having to check-in.

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AT&T is making a big push to enable its U-verse subscribers to engage with shows they’re watching on TV, through integrations with a number of social TV apps. By partnering with BuddyTV, Miso, TV Foundry and WayIn, AT&T U-verse users will be able to chat, take polls and get personalized TV recommendations without having to “check in” to the shows they’re watching.

AT&T TV subscribers will be able to connect their smartphones and tablets with their U-verse receivers, opening up instant access to a new range of second-screen applications. While the first generation of these apps largely relied on users to “check in” to whatever content they were watching, the next generation are focused on going beyond the check-in. Since checking in has been a barrier to entry for some of the more engaging experiences, such as chatting with friends or other fans of the show or taking polls, app makers have been seeking ways to eliminate the need to do so.

One of the ways companies like Miso and BuddyTV have tried to get around the “check in” barrier is by partnering with operators to allow their apps to communicate directly with the set-top box. So far, DirecTV has been most aggressive in partnering with second-screen app makers: its set-top boxes can communicate with apps like Miso and GetGlue. But AT&T is showing that it’s also taking the second screen very seriously.

The integration brings a wide range of new experiences to U-verse subscribers. BuddyTV, for instance, lets users create a customized channel guide and take advantage of personalized recommendations. Meanwhile, Miso and TV Foundry provide more social experiences by allowing users to see what their friends are watching and share their own TV viewing habits with others on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. And Scott McNealy’s new startup WayIn allows users to create and participate in polls about nearly anything, but TV will be an early focus.

Since more than 40 percent of tablet and smartphone users have their devices at the ready while watching TV, according to Nielsen, creating a more interactive experience on the second screen only makes sense. Not only does it allow publishers to engage with viewers while they’re watching TV shows, but it could enable a whole new form of advertising.

  1. Ryan, great piece, and the opening up of the cable ecosystem is exciting for third parties, cable operators, and most importantly consumers.

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  2. Seeing one of these apps interact with the AT&T receiver is a pretty cool user experience. Seeing TV Foundry on iPhone alert me to videos and deals related to the content I’m watching will change the way I watch TV.

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