TVGuide.com Adds Tools to Let Fans Talk Up TV Shows on Facebook

TVGuide.com, the television listings website, is adding social-networking features as it tries to get fans to promote shows online through sites such as Facebook.

The site, which split from TV Guide magazine in 2008 and is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., will update its TV Check-in feature to let users create personal lists of favorite shows starting today. They’ll be able to tell friends what they’re watching and have comments post on Facebook, said Christy Tanner, TVGuide.com’s senior vice president.

The new TV season has seen a proliferation of so-called check-in websites, said Henry Copeland, founder of Blogads, which sells advertising for blogs. The sites allow people to post comments about shows and have those feed through to their friends using social networks such as Twitter.

“Our users have demonstrated their social influence by checking in, sharing information about their favorite shows with millions of users,” Tanner said in an interview.

Established media companies such as Lions Gate and Comcast Corp. are creating such sites to vie with early leaders like GetGlue for mobile and online fans and the advertising that follows them. The comments can create buzz and influence viewing habits as more people simultaneously watch TV and post remarks on check-in sites, said Tanner.

In December, New York-based TVGuide.com plans to add applications that let users “check-in” on Apple Inc.’s iPhones and iPads, as well as on smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android software, according to the company.

Philadelphia-based Comcast, the largest cable company, has introduced a check-in site called Tunerfish, while CBS Corp. said its TV.com has begun offering the service.

Network Customers

GetGlue, based in New York, has backing from Union Square Ventures and RRE Ventures, according to the company website. It has agreements to offer the service to Fox, HBO, ABC Family and other networks, said Chief Executive Officer Alex Iskold.

Users are rewarded with online “stickers” or badges from shows that highlight the dedication of fans. HBO also offers GetGlue users merchandise discounts, according to Sabrina Caluori, HBO director of marketing and social media.

Television networks sees check-in sites as a way to build ties to their most loyal viewers, said Hardie Tankersley, vice president of innovation at Fox, the broadcast network owned by New York-based News Corp.

“It’s a digital water cooler,” Tankersley said.

Fox signed GetGlue to promote “Glee”, Tankersley said, and is talking with several other “check-in” sites.

TVGuide.com has 12.9 million unique users, according to researcher ComScore Inc. In mid-October it introduced a check-in feature that it says averages 10,000 visits a day, of which 60 percent are shared with friends on Facebook, Tanner said.

The new innovations add the check-in feature to more pages on the site, she said. Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. and Burbank, California-based Walt Disney Co.’s ABC are sponsors.

Lions Gate, based in Vancouver, acquired TVGuide.com as part of its 2009 purchase of the TV Guide Network cable channel.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ronald Grover in Los Angeles at rgrover@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net.

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