VH1 knew that its primarily young and tech-savvy viewers were using mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad to share information with their friends while watching its shows. At the same time, it realized that many viewers weren’t necessarily tuning into live airings while they were tweeting or messaging their friends on Facebook. So the cable network has released a new companion iPad app for its programming, called VH1 Co-Star, which combines both social sharing with on-demand viewing.
VH1 Co-Star works like most second-screen social sharing apps: Users can log in via Twitter or Facebook, allowing them to see messages from their friends while they watch a show, along with highlighted tweets from other viewers and members of a shows’ cast. But the twist is that the Co-Star app’s WatchWith feature basically emulates the live social experience, even if viewers are tuning in to a re-run or a recording on their DVRs.
WatchWith works by curating conversations from social networks like Twitter and public Facebook postings that happen during a show’s airing and replays those postings in a linear fashion while viewers watch the show. So unlike other social sharing apps, Co-Star users don’t actually have to be watching the live premiere of an episode to take part in the action. MTV and VH1 Digital GM Kristen Frank calls the app a “DVR for curated social conversations,” which makes every social viewing of a VH1 show just like tuning into the premiere for the first time.
The app not only indexes and brings in conversations that happened during the shows, but provides episode-specific trivia and blog entries about VH1 programming. The app also enables users to get access to exclusive multimedia content, like pictures and videos from the shows. And, like other most social TV apps, there’s also a game component that awards points and badges for various achievements.
The VH1 Co-Star was built by social app builder Rogue Paper, a San Francisco-based startup that specializes in creating engaging experiences on the second screen. Looking to capitalize on the trend of viewers tapping on their mobile devices while watching TV, Rogue Paper has created a platform that makes it easier for major media companies to create branded mobile apps that hook into social networks and surface conversations about their programming.