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Zeebox launched two years ago as a fairly simple program guide with many second screen integrated features.

Ben Davis covered the app in his article Zeebox: insanely powerful advertising but will it catch on? At the time of writing in October 2013, it was found that 53% of adults interact with another form of media while watching television and of that number, 25% were chatting online about the shows they were watching.

With 6m downloads of the app, Zeebox were well on the way to capitalise on this second-screen trend.

As of this week, Zeebox has been rebranded as Beamly and a new app has been launched. The theory behind the rebrand is to expand upon the initial conceit of an app that added enjoyment to the programme you were watching at that particular moment, by expanding the experience throughout the day, away from the television. 

According to Beamly, users can now:

  • follow shows and personalities to get personalised news and social feeds, updated live.
  • find and follow other fans to connect with around shared interests.
  • chat and share in TV Rooms. These are social spaces for television, hosted by TV personalities.
  • use a smart personalised television guide.
  • interact live with programmes via custom games and contextual votes, synched live to the currently broadcast show.

Let’s put these features to the test.

On downloading the app you are presented with a list of genres, which you can tick as you swipe down.

Then a similar screen asks you to tick your favourite shows.

This is a seemingly never-ending list that I never actually got to the end of. You can tick anything from Game of Thrones, Magnum PI, The Great British Bake Off and Later with Jools Holland. It probably pays to pick as many of these as you can.

A further screen asks you to follow your favourite stars and celebrities. There is no option for Russ Abbot or Bella Emberg FYI, but this feature has helpfully cleared up which one is Ant and which one is Dec. I chose to only follow Dec.

Finally you can finish setting up your account using your social media profile. To be honest, if you’re not happy to integrate this app with your Facebook or Twitter profile then You probably wouldn’t be using it in the first place.

It’s a quick and, to be perfectly honest, fun sign-up process. Who doesn’t love being asked what their favourite TV shows are?

Once that’s finished, you’re in.

Handily for the purposes of this review, I ticked The Great British Bake Off and it’s coincidentally on right now. If it wasn’t, the header image would show which of my picked TV shows was on next, with the scheduled time replacing the ‘On Now’ message.

This is handy in of itself just to keep you reminded when your next favourite show is on.

If you swipe down the screen you can see the latest news related to your favourited TV shows. Obviously right now this will be rather Game of Thrones heavy, but that’s only because I ticked it. The news feed is entirely personalised to your own likes and interests.

Tapping through the ‘on now’ image will take you to the show’s landing page.

Here you can follow or unfollow the show, find out which channel it’s on, if you tap on ‘I’m watching’ you can send an editable message to your Beamly friends or your social channels…

You can also swipe down the screen further to access link to outside-app sites, find out when and where the show is on again…

Find other related programmes, find other related apps or downloads within the app store…

The Mary Berry link takes you through to a link on the iBooks Store. You can also test the social ‘hotness’ of the programme with the bottom indicators. To be honest, for a repeat of a show from last year being shown on BBC2 at 3pm I would say that two tweets a minute isn’t that bad.

From the show’s home screen you can access the TV Room feature. This will bring up any ‘chatroom’ that involves this programme or similar genres.

You can tap on these rooms, follow the conversations and join in yourself. More can be accessed from the TV Rooms tab and you can join whichever ones you like.

However most impressively, you can even start your own TV Room for whatever show or genre you like and invite your friends to join in.

If you’d rather use your Twitter feed to talk about the show, all you have to do is tap the Twitter tab and this will bring up all of the current tweets surrounding the programme.

The TV guide is a well-designed feature, with a fully swipe-able and intuitive interface.

It’s easy to set a reminder for any show coming up by tapping on the small clock button. You can choose whether you receive an alarm either five minutes before the start of any next episode or only before new episodes.

You can also filter by genre, users, shows or personalities you’re following or by audience size, if you just want to watch what everyone else is watching. You can also use the Beamly app as a remote control for your internet enabled television. However I haven’t been able to test this here, so please do let me know if this works or not.

In conclusion

All in all, this is a pretty slick experience.

Even though I’m probably quite cynical about using a specific second-screen app personally, as I’m happy using Twitter for up-to-the-minute conversations, this is an excellent TV guide app with great features for setting reminders and accessing a personalised news feed.

Saying that, I wonder how little time it would take to end up accidentally immersed in a conversation in a TV Room after merely checking what time Columbo is on later?

For more on the second screen from our blog, check out My fundamental doubts about the second screen and how can brands take advantage of the second screen.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 15 April, 2014 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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