Fox takes stake in social TV firm

Second-screen app for 'New Girl' launches on iPhone

Fox Broadcasting Co. has taken a small equity stake in a tech firm that specializes in creating apps to accompany TV shows.

The broadcaster is investing an unspecified amount in ACTV8.me, which just launched a so-called “second screen” app that will deliver content synchronized to episodes of “New Girl.” The app launched Tuesday for iPad and iPhone and is expected to be available on Android-powered platforms in the weeks ahead.

“We’re always looking for new ways to enhance the viewing experience for our audience with rich, engaging interactive content, and we think ACTV8.me is an ideal partner to help us achieve that,” said Bill Bradford, senior VP of digital media for Fox.

The app has social games tied to the series that keeps score among users, driving engagement with the series. “Imagine a Zynga game combined with a TV show, and that’s what this app is,” said Brian Shuster, CEO of ACTV8.me.

The “New Girl” Companion app is likely just the first of several series that will utilize the ACTV8.me platform as part of the network’s increasing efforts to experiment on new platforms under the oversight of Fox president of digital David Wertheimer, who was hired last October from the USC Entertainment Technology Center.

The network is expected to line up a number of partnerships with third-party vendors and build capabilities in-house as it looks to make new connections with both consumers and advertisers beyond the TV screen.

While “New Girl” is ACTV8.me’s first project with Fox, the company has created similar apps for series including NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” and Oxygen’s “The Glee Project.”

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