Shazam Makes Its Big TV Push, Says App Can Now Tag Any Show On Any Channel

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When you use Shazam, you’re probably identifying a song on the car radio, in a coffee shop, or anywhere else. Recently, however, the company has been expanding into the world of TV, thanks to partnerships with shows like American Idol, and also with brands, including nearly half of the advertisers during the Super Bowl.

Shazam just announced  that it’s expanding its TV efforts beyond individual partnerships. Chief Revenue Officer Doug Garland says the company has created a comprehensive experience for TV, allowing users to tag any show on any channel. This functionality is actually live in the current version of the app — Shazam just waited a little while to announce it. (Unable to resist the pun, Garland says, “We were getting it ready for prime time.”)

When you’re watching a show, you should be able to tag it the same way you’d tag a song, by opening the Shazam app and tapping the big button. In this case, it’s not really about identifying the show (since you probably know that already). Instead, it offers cast information, trivia, celebrity buzz, live Twitter feeds — and yes, it can also identify featured music.

In some ways, this sounds like a bigger challenge than audio tagging, because, as Garland puts it, Shazam For TV is not just “pre-ingesting” music “well ahead of the time” — it allows users to tag live content, and to do that it’s processing footage. The company says users can now tag content from 160 U.S. channels, though the app won’t work for some local-only content. And it seems to be focused on live TV for now — I tested the app out with episodes I’ve downloaded from iTunes, and it mostly whiffed.

The description of Shazam’s technology reminded me of social TV app IntoNow, which also identifies TV shows based on sound, and which was acquired last year by Yahoo. Garland says Shazam has a big advantage over TV-only apps, because it already has an enormous audience on the music side.

“When we talk to Fox, we did for American Idol, we can tell them that we bring not just a great platform and an engaging user experience — we have massive reach,” he says.

Speaking of reach, Shazam is also announcing that it has been used (not just downloaded, but actually used to tag content) by 250 million people worldwide.

The app is also becoming more social. The company says users will now be able to see what their Facebook friends are tagging, and to comment on those tags. Plus, users’ tags will appear in their Facebook timelines.