Fans of entertainment social network GetGlue have been subjected to a bumpy ride over the last few months. In November, the startup announced that it had agreed to merge with TV loyalty service, Viggle in a deal worth as much as $70 million. But the numbers didn’t look too good, and the merger was delayed again and again. Finally, last month, the deal was called off and, in spite of the botched merger, the companies said that they “remain friendly and think highly of each other.” Right.
With all this excitement (or lack thereof, depending on your perspective), GetGlue has gone more than a year without any significant updates to its mobile apps . But that officially changed today, as the startup announced some significant updates to its iPhone apps, including a main feed that now combines updates from friends and shows, a new smart, personalized guide to improve your second-screen viewing experience and the launch of new “Show Pages.”
Of course, these updates should sound familiar to fans of the media check-in app, as they are the same upgrades that launched on GetGlue’s iPad app late in 2012. While Viggle is busy burning through cash “at an alarming rate,” GetGlue has been busy becoming one of the leading social TV apps in the market. And now it has the benefit of being able to focus on its product, remaining (we can only imagine) happily independent.
To that point: The company said that its community now stands at four million-strong. As media consumption behavior changes among viewers, we’ve witnessed a corresponding interest in social and second-screen viewing experiences, which allow people to engage with friends around their favorite shows and movies. GetGlue offers a notable example of the growing interest in the social viewing experience and, as fans share what they they’re watching with friends while chatting about their favorite TV shows, the startup has amassed over 700 million data points on social viewing habits.
GetGlue’s new release attempts to leverage this data in an effort to provide better discovery for both first and second screen viewing, as the app’s main feed now combines updates from friends and shows so that, along with being able to see what your friends are watching, users can also get video clips, recaps and pictures from their favorite shows in their main feed. This means that users are no longer forced out of the app to find second screen content on other sites, as updates now live within the app in the main GetGlue Feed.
In addition, the startup’s updated iPhone app now includes a personalized Guide that recommends streaming TV content as well as films that are currently in theaters. The Guide allows users to see what their friends are watching, what’s trending in the GetGlue community and gives sports fans access to live scores and stats. Essentially, GetGlue is on a mission to become your go-to, mobile entertainment calendar through which you can find new episodes, finales, movies, games and upcoming media events.
To do that, GetGlue has also added “Show Pages” to its iPhone app to give users access to live conversations and media from their favorite shows, enabling them to chat with their friends, other fans and engage their social networks all while watching the latest episode of Nashville. User can see which Facebook friends like the same show, view the lates clips and recaps, or strike up a conversation with other fans without having to leave the app.
With its new release, GetGlue is also showing that it’s taking monetization more seriously as its debuting a new advertising product for brands, networks and studios. Its new ad units, called Promoted Entries, will show up on the app’s main feed and in users’ Guides, with the goal of giving advertisers a better way to connect with their customers around their content. Now any type of content can be promoted, which means that it will appear at the top of the Feed for the duration of the sponsored campaign. If a user likes a Promoted Entry, it shows up on friends’ feeds as well.
GetGlue’s new Promoted Entries debuted during the Super Bowl in partnership with its launch partner, Pepsi. The company said that over 15 percent of tweets about Pepsi during halftime came from GetGlue and it was the “number two source of all tweets about Pepsi,” behind Twitter.
Ahead of the Grammy Awards this weekend, GetGlue is also partnering with the Recording Academy to allow fans who check-in to the Grammys on the app to unlock branded stickers and win prizes, including free seats to next year’s Grammys.
Over its history, GetGlue has become known for its badge system that allows users to collect digital and real, live stickers by checking in to their favorite shows. The company said today that more than 75 networks have rewarded fans of over 700 shows with these stickers and, in recognition, the startup is offering new upgrades to its stickers. Users can now pick the stickers they receive every month, get real stickers sent to friends outside of the U.S. and if you get your friend to join the app, you can unlock past stickers and receive free shipping. The new sticker upgrades are currently in beta, the company says.
It’s also worth noting that, last week, Facebook began testing a new “status composer,” which allows users to share what they’re doing with visual status updates. Users can now select from different categories “to share activities such as feeling, reading or eating” … and choose a particular “emotion or piece of media,” along with custom text descriptions, Josh wrote last week.
Facebook’s new visual activity sharing feature is currently in testing among select users both on the web and on mobile, and the company hopes that it will encourage users to share more frequently as they’re no longer limited to plain old text updates. Of course, this could also mean trouble ahead for GetGlue.
Because Facebook’s new status composer allows users to select from and share pieces of media, it potentially competes directly with media sharing apps like GetGlue. In a way, this is an example of imitation-as-flattery for GetGlue, and may not necessarily be a bad thing, considering that Facebook’s launching a competitor to SnapChat led to skyrocketing buzz for SnapChat. And, as Colleen reported at the time, the buzz actually translated into real value for SnapChat, particularly in terms of downloads, as it jumped into the #4 position among all free apps in Apple’s App Store.
Of course, Facebook’s new visual status composer wasn’t spun as a “GetGlue clone” by the media with nearly the same intensity that SnapChat saw when Facebook launched Poke — and for good reason. As Josh points out, Facebook’s new update is a response to emoji messaging apps like Line and smiley-happy apps like Path just as much as it’s a response to the popularity of media sharing experiences native to apps like GetGlue.
GetGlue’s new iPhone release definitely represents the biggest upgrade the app has seen in a long time and from limited early testing, provides some potentially valuable enhancements to the GetGlue experience. That being said, while ads could mean an increase in revenue for the startup and more appeal for brands, it remains to be seen whether this will detract from the user experience. Just as it remains to be seen whether Facebook’s new status composer will succeed in stealing some of GetGlue’s thunder.
For more, find GetGlue’s new app here.