Fox Follows ABC Into iPad Sync Space With ‘Bones’ App

Make sure to keep your iPad on when watching TV because there may be a trend developing in primetime programs that have companion content synchronized on that second screen in your lap. Fox announced the launch today of a free app tied to its drama series Bones, the second such effort to be announced in as many weeks.

The Bones Show Companion kicks off with a new episode Thursday at 9 p.m. ET/PT, complete with a host of content add-ons including polls, social-media integration and even a “jukebox” that allows viewers to purchase songs they hear in the episode via iTunes. The app also works when watching the program on, Hulu or via DVR.

As paidContent reported first, ABC (NYSE: DIS) revived its own iPad sync app last week with its hit drama Grey’s Anatomy, after trying out the technology first earlier in the TV season on another series, My Generation, that was canceled quickly.

But the technology behind Fox’s Companion app does not utilize the audio watermarking ABC employs, according to Hardie Tankersley, vice president of online content at Fox. Companion works differently depending on whether you’re watching Bones live or not. On TV, the iPad can detect what time zone the viewer is in and when exactly the program starts in order to deliver the content in a timely fashion.

On the PC or DVR, the user has to trigger the iPad experience at the touch of a start button. Given different viewing windows have different ad loads, that may sound problematic but Tankersley noted that the timing of the iPad content is more relaxed than “frame accurate” delivery that would require more precise timing. “The content that’s there is not so tightly wound that it has to be there the second the character says something,” he said.

It’s interesting that so far the TV industry is treating tablets more as a sidecar for original programming on TV than a source of original content in its own right, as News Corp.’s new The Daily is trying to do. Or perhaps sometime soon we’ll see a video-centric company try to evolve its product on the iPad the way News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). wants to do same for the news business.

Here’s a promo for ABC’s iPad app for Grey’s Anatomy: