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ConnecTV in second-screen strategy

Sets chats with TV talent via app that will also pipe in ads

As TV networks look for more ways to keep viewers from switching channels, they’re looking to their talent to embrace the second screen and chat with fans.

ConnecTV, the Silicon Valley startup that has developed a social platform for TV viewers, has enlisted stars from ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” “Revenge,” ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” and Fox’s “American Idol” and “X-Factor” to converse with viewers through the company’s app for mobile devices or computers while the shows air. App works with any TV source: cable, satellite and IPTV live or time shifted.

Company also plans to launch chats around the upcoming Super Bowl and Oscarcast.

“We plan to hit all the tentpole events,” said ConnecTV co-founder Ian Aaron, former CEO and president of Gemstar TV Guide, after conducting tests with events like the Golden Globes.

App is meant to keep viewers engaged with the programming they’re watching as they increasingly stare at their mobile screens. ConnecTV has been working with network affiliates to keep eyes glued to interactive versions of the programs they’re watching instead of checking out a random site or Twitter feeds.

Move is also seen as a way to satisfy advertisers who worry their marketing messages aren’t being viewed by the demos they’re trying to reach.

“It’s proved a place for engagement and discourse,” Aaron said, adding that conversations around a show on social platforms has spiked up to 400% with each chat.

More than 3,000 people have participated with each chat during “Pretty Little Liars,” for example, with show’s Keegan Allen having taken part in fan chats.

In addition to the live chats, ConnecTV’s “SocialTV Timeline” provides a stream of news, bios, polls and celebrity tweets tied to the series.

Other celebs ConnecTV has hosted include Val Chmerkovskiy of “Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars,” Apollo Nida of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and Chris Rene of Fox’s “X-Factor.”

Company hopes to eventually host a chat on a daily basis.

ConnecTV, headed by former TV Guide, TiVo and CrossPointe Media exec Stacy Jolna, also recently launched its AdSync Network, which through the ConnecTV app delivers the same ads to mobile devices that air during a TV broadcast. So far that’s only for national spots, but ConnecTV plans to do the same for local ads by working with over 400 channels operated by affiliates owned by partners that include Barrington Broadcasting, Belo, Cox Media, E.W. Scripps, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations, Raycom Media and Schurz Communications.

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