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Network Ten is the secret partner of new TV app Company zeebox in Australia with the network set to promote the new app heavily over coming months.

Launched today, Zeebox generates revenue by selling advertising inside a TV application which can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet. The Australian Company is currently talking to Foxtel and is set to negotiate with set top box manufactures including Humax, Topfield, WD TV and Beyondwiz to bundle their application with a variety of digital TV media players.
 
Already launched in the US and the UK, Zeebox displays in-depth information about TV programs viewers are watching. It also allows for direct access via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook with friends and their favourite television personalities.

Users will also be able to have seamless control of subscription TV services in the future.

The brainchild of former EMI executive Ernesto Schmitt and BBC iPlayer CTO Anthony Rose, Zeebox is set to be a real threat to Ice TV, who is reliant on set top box manufacturers to deliver an audience for their subscription based electronic program guide.

Australia CEO, Craig Blair told ChannelNews that a new subsidiary Zeebox has been established in Australia and that Network Ten is a “major” investor in the Australian operation.

He said “Revenue is via an advertising driven model. We provide users with rich content as well as the ability to communicate with friends and celebrities. Network Ten is a major partner and we are confident that the app will be successful in Australia. We are in a position to deliver a wealth of rich information to advertisers.”

“We know that 60 to 72% repeat use the application after it has been downloaded. The average usage time is 30 minutes per session. In the UK there are over 1.5 million users and we have just launched in the US” he added. 

A recent study from Yahoo and Nielsen showed up to 86 percent of viewers use a mobile device while watching TV. Analysts claim that as a result money is pouring into so called “second screen” apps that give users access to additional content and conversation around their favourite shows.

In the USA Comcast, NBC Universal and HBO are either investors or major content partners with Zeebox.

“There are a lot of players working on second screen apps, it’s a very fragmented space,” Page Thompson, the executive vice president of strategic integration at NBCUniversal told the Verge recently. “We looked all around the world at the start-ups doing this, and just felt the technical team from Zeebox was the best.”

Since its launch in late 2011, Zeebox has signed up 1.5 million users. “They’ve proven their product in the U.K. market, they’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit,” said Thompson. “They can move fast, but the product can scale.”

The Zeebox app launched in Australia today is a mix of social media and electronic TV guide. If you log in with Facebook or Twitter, you can see what friends and followers are watching, which programs are trending, and what shows are recommended for you.

Tap through to a show and you can grab all kinds of digital goodies: outtakes, interviews and biographical data on actors. “We didn’t want to just be another choice in the app store,” said Anthony Rose, former CTO of the BBC’s iPlayer and Zeebox’s co-founder. “Second screen has been smart tech folk creating very cool apps around other people’s content. That has been great because you can innovate, you can take risks, but to take it to the next level, you need deep integration with the companies that are producing the content. We want TV stars to look out at the audience and say, ‘what do you think’, and in real time our audience can respond.”

In Australia Zeebox will have the capacity to pull down a wealth of data about live TV and uses audio analysis, closed captions, and video fingerprinting to generate interesting “z-tags” about the subject matter. The company also gives publishers a set of APIs and editorial tools to push graphics, video and web content back and forth between television and the app. “We think these two worlds are coming together, and this will help to erase the boundaries that remain,” says Rose.

“Zeebox knows what’s happening on the show you’re watching and opens up that world to you. With search, recommendations, social connectivity and ecommerce functions all built into the one app, it will be Australian’s first truly integrated second-screen experience, making TV even better,” said Zeebox Australia CEO, Craig Blair.

Zeebox claim the user experience is seamless with users able to fire up Zeebox to see instantly what’s on TV, what’s buzzing and what the celebrities or your friends are watching. 

Click on a show and your media player automatically jumps to that to that channel. If you pick up your traditional remote and change the channel, Zeebox detects it instantly and prompts you to switch Zeebox to the corresponding show page.  With one click you’re at the heart of the social buzz around the show, with a wealth of additional information, interactivity and commerce at your fingertips.

“We believe seamless remote control is one of those killer features – integrated with our content, almost invisible, but completely embedded with the consumer experience,” said Anthony Rose, co-founder and CTO of Zeebox, “The coming months will see Zeebox enabling seamless remote control for a range of connected TVs and set-top boxes in every region where our app is available, including Australia.”

Local CEO Craig Blair claims Zeebox allows broadcast networks to extend the TV experience by sharing engaging and relevant content directly with the viewer.

 “Imagine watching a programme and on your mobile or tablet receiving synchronised trivia on the cast, only the most relevant Twitter feeds on live shows, an invitation from a celebrity to join a group chat, up-to-date statistics on big sports games, or being able to directly purchase a product seen on screen. All that is now possible with eebox.”

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