App maker links to info on TV shows

Viewers of new ABC drama “Last Resort” or long-running CBS comedy “The Big Bang Theory” will be able to find out trivia about Andre Braugher they can post to friends on their Facebook wall, or share the latest tweet from Johnny Galecki simply by pointing their Shazam-enabled smartphone at the TV screen.

Best known for its music-recognition mobile app that allows users to hold their devices up to any audio source to get information about the song being played, London-based Shazam is making the jump to television, aiming to provide viewers with a second-screen experience for practically every show on any network at any time in the United States, where it already has about 80 million users.

Auds now will be able to use the app to get information on shows, such as cast info, photos, trivia, celebrity tweets and, yes, music — and will be able to instantly share that information across social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

“We’ve gone out and created experiences with different shows using a wide variety of information, done in a way where we’ve produced and curated the experience,” says Doug Garland, Shazam’s chief revenue officer, who heads the company’s partnerships program. “How many times are you watching a show and told to go to a website to get more information? We close the gap and make it easy to get that information.”

Shazam works with video the same way it does for audio, matching the media fingerprint in as little as one second to identify what viewers are watching. The company says it uses more than 100 publicly available sources, including IMDb, Wikipedia, Rovi, People and E! Online to link to television data, news and gossip within the app. Its technology filters RSS feeds to serve viewers the added info about the TV shows and cast members that they’re watching.

Shazam’s new TV universe coverage is a big leap forward from the recent past, when only a few series were Shazam-enabled, like “Being Human,” “Platinum Hits,” “Covert Affairs,” “The Glee Project,” “Alphas,” “The Deadliest Catch” and “The Deadliest Warrior,” plus some episodes of “Psych” and “The Soup.”

Previously, Shazam had inked agreements with NBC for huge television events like the recently wrapped London Olympics, and this year’s Super Bowl, with Fox on the finale of “American Idol” and with CBS for the Grammy Awards.

Shazam’s scope of activities extends beyond music and TV recognition, however. In May, the company launched a partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment that enabled viewers of commercials for “Men in Black 3″ to buy movie tickets via the app through Fandango, to access exclusive footage and to buy DVDs and soundtracks for other Sony pics such “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Total Recall.”

“We’ve applied what we’ve learned to our newly expanded service, and will continue to work closely with our network partners and show producers to build special, unique second-screen experiences for their tentpole television events and many of the most popular shows on TV,” Garland says.

The privately held company derives its revenue from advertising and subscriptions, but most of its coin comes from the cut it gets from sales of music on iTunes and other affiliates — to the tune of about $300 million annually.

Shazam has the approval of networks and shows. To provide its blanket coverage of TV, it has upgraded its technology, including increased bandwidth, and is working with content providers like Rovi to furnish programming information.

The company offers a free app and a premium version, the latter priced at $6.99 as a one-time fee, and ad-free. Shazam says it has more than 250 million users in 200 countries, and is growing at a pace of nearly 2 million new users a week.

“No other app has our scale when it comes to offering the opportunity to engage with the media that interests them the most,” says Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher, “whether it’s music or television.”

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