BuddyTV Bets the Company That TV Will Go Social on Smartphones and Tablets

10/12/10

Seattle-based BuddyTV got its start as a place where people could go online to talk about their favorite shows. But five years later, a lot of the hit shows have changed, and so has Buddy TV’s strategy as it seeks to stay relevant.

BuddyTV has undergone a transformation this year as it seeks new ways to capture and engage the fan bases around popular TV shows like Glee, True Blood, and Desperate Housewives, to name just a few.

One of BuddyTV’s competitors, Wetpaint rolled out its own new strategy, which shook up its entire business model, emerging with a brand new venture, Wetpaint Entertainment, that it hoped would reinvent the publishing industry. BuddyTV, on the other hand, has decided to go an entirely different route—a “bet the company” move, on engaging TV viewers through smartphones and tablet devices, according to chief executive Andy Liu.

When we spoke with BuddyTV back in January, the company was showing some impressive progress. It was the No. 2 fastest-growing website in the U.S., according to comScore, and, with its some 6 million monthly visitors, was seeing annual traffic growth of around 300 percent. But even with its success, the company was already looking for ways to diversify and expand beyond its bread and butter Web advertising revenue stream.

Late last month BuddyTV launched its mobile social campaign, releasing a new app for the iPhone and iPad that offers an entirely different experience from its website. The space, Liu says, is a new territory of social TV.

“We’re making a big bet on the mobile and tablet side of things,” Liu says. “When I watch TV, I’ve got my iPad open, I’ve got mobile phones nearby as well, and I think in the next 12 to 18 months this whole movement towards being a lot more social in television is really going to come together, and we just want to get ahead of that. It’s amazing how much hardware has changed this space.”

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In the same vein of Comcast’s Tunerfish, Google’s Miso, and Facebook’s Hot Potato, the BuddyTV app utilizes the same idea behind location-based social networking—except instead of checking in to your neighborhood coffee shop, you can check into intangible things like books, music, and in this case, your favorite TV shows, while you’re watching them.

BuddyTV’s aim, according to Liu, is to build onto the basic check-in experience, to create something more personal. Through the app, fans will be able to check-in to more than 500 shows (and new ones are being added all the time), and jump into an active conversation pool, called the … Next Page »

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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