Why Zeebox is light years ahead of the competition

By David Knox on November 13, 2012 / Filed Under News, Top Stories 19

Social TV platform Zeebox is tipped to launch this week -a little later than anticipated, but it will have been worth the wait.

The second screen platform, which invites viewers to engage in online conversations while watching programmes, is TEN’s foray into a growing market.

While Seven launched FANGO at the start of the year, and Nine added Jump-In during the Olympics, both will be dwarfed by Zeebox in terms of what it offers viewers.

Simply put, it is light years ahead of the competition.

TV Tonight has been test-driving Zeebox ahead of its launch and it offers greater depth, greater versatility and greater interactivity than either of its rivals.

Whilst Seven and Nine own their respective platforms, a key difference here is that TEN doesn’t own Zeebox, but has licensed the British-owned platform for Australia (it launched in the US in September with Comcast Cable and NBC Universal). That means Zeebox’s owners are keen to see more broadcasters embrace it in Australia and there are already rumours Foxtel could get on board.

As a result, Zeebox offers a full TV guide with all networks on equal footing and if viewers are only going to migrate to one, instead of three, platforms then Zeebox deserves to be their first choice.

Significantly, it will launch free on iPad, iPhone, Android and Web -there are no vague promises of making Android users wait until 6 months down the track.

While FANGO prioritises Seven shows on its homepage (and lacks a full Guide), Jump-In has a full guide as its homepage but makes navigation rather confusing. Zeebox uses plenty of photos and has the feel of a giant TV website, with a full Guide, News, chat, “shout-outs” to invite friends to join you in watching content together, viewing reminders and more.

One of its most powerful features is “Zeetags” which trawls closed captions for the programmes you are watching and makes tags of keywords, which then link to further information. Want to know what that song was on The X Factor? Need an actor bio? Want more info on a topic discussed on Q & A? There are “Zeetag” links that offer loads of online links. Sometimes these aren’t perfect. For instance Big Brother zeetags led to US stories about big brother adoptions -not exactly related to the show. Shows that don’t offer closed captions could also be a challenge.

Chat takes place privately with feiends within the app’s direct conversation, or via public Twitter and Facebook aggregation, and you can quickly see which shows have the biggest activity at any given moment. If your friends are logged in you can see what shows they are watching.

Zeebox will be including advertising, but so far it seems to be largely unobtrusive and it looks like being content relevant (such as iTunes episodes of the show you’re watching). Not sure how long that will last.

There are also other “smart” features that engage devices with the TV set that are likely to come later.

I still haven’t worked out how TEN benefits from this platform over and above other broadcasters, because at first glance all networks seem  to benefit from the same features. Maybe this will become evident later.

My anecdotal research also suggests that a lot of us have dabbled with some of these platforms, FANGO in particular, but not everyone is sticking with them, feeling they are either limited in what they offer or too hard to navigate. In my experience you  only get one shot to impress and then it’s hard to draw the user back or get them to drill down. Zeebox makes a strong first impression and you will probably need to come back just to wade through all its features and decide which ones work best for you.

If you are into second-screen Zeebox will be a must have, or if it’s your first interest in finding out what all the fuss is about then there are lots of bells and whistles.

Either way if you are into TV, it will be definitely be worth a look.

Despite other current challenges, TEN got this one right.

19 Comments »

  1. MichaelQ November 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm -

    Why not just use GetGlue?

    Not just restricted to any market – Aus, USA etc. Not restricted to whats on TV right now – so it’s perfect for watching shows in advance or via catchup.

    Does Movies, Games etc, not just TV.

    Free.

    These single use platforms seem silly.

  2. David Knox November 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm -

    Thought that might be the case. All good, it’s a great little app.

  3. NicH November 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm -

    What’s that? Which popular TV website was featured on tonights Tens 5pm News praising its new Zeebox app.

  4. hugeonreddit November 14, 2012 at 11:16 am -

    Yeah i know what it is & what it isn’t. You currently have more followers than zeebox @DavidKnox. Maybe you could make a more successful app?

  5. David Knox November 14, 2012 at 11:02 am -

    Well I doubt they have many AU users yet given it officially launched 2 hours ago. It isn’t attempting to be a catch-up app, it is a social TV app.

  6. hugeonreddit November 14, 2012 at 10:48 am -

    Zeebox is a fkn waste of time. How many users do they claim to have? They have 500 odd likes on FB and 7 thousand followers on Twitter worldwide ( for something which is essentially what the major feature of their social interaction is supposed to run off. Its just a crutch trying to get TV back on its feet instead of addressing the problem of how people’s viewing habits have changed. People want streaming TV on their smartphones, tablets & desktops, that and on-demand is the future. Not twitter on crack.

  7. Kathy November 14, 2012 at 8:35 am -

    I quite like the app so far.

    @effdee Under Privacy settings you can disable both viewing and chat options, therefore allowing you to remain anonymous.

  8. tomothyd November 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm -

    I just want an app where all online catchup is available (or an app for each network if necessary). I don’t want to check in to a program to let my friends know I am watching, or chat to others about whats happening in the show. I’ll text someone if I know they are watching.
    I wonder if this app will get updated start times to tell us the show is now starting at 8:43pm and not the advertised time of 8:30pm?
    Is there an iPad app for Seven, Nine and Ten catchups that I am not aware of? I’ve already got SBS OnDemand and ABC iView apps.

  9. Buzz3 November 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm -

    One screen is enough for me the proper TV screen to much of a distraction using anything else

  10. laurie November 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm -

    Available to download here: zeebox.com/uk/

  11. laurie November 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm -

    there are no vague promises of making Android users wait until 6 months down the track.
    =====================================
    Read that Foxtel!!

  12. TasTVcameraman November 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm -

    Looks interesting, I have tried Fango a couple of times but not really a big fan, and as for the Nine version I did not even know that it was there. Could be klack of promotion or lack of Nine shows that I actually watch

  13. Col. Mustard November 13, 2012 at 11:05 am -

    I’ll remain open minded till I see the Australian version, especially as David has given it such a good wrap. But I’ve looked at the UK and US versions and essentially it’s just a bunch of tags that link to Wikipedia. I can’t see that it’s a killer application. I’ve already got Wiki and a TV guide in my browser.

  14. David Knox November 13, 2012 at 10:19 am -

    Pretty sure it does, I will check.

  15. effdee November 13, 2012 at 10:11 am -

    “If your friends are logged in you can see what shows they are watching.” would need to have a disable option for me to use it, if anything doesn’t let me fine tune privacy settings, it’s a dealbreaker.

  16. Dr_Rudi November 13, 2012 at 9:19 am -

    “TEN’s foray into a growing market.”

    It’s the only growing market TEN will get near this year.

  17. ricoz November 13, 2012 at 8:43 am -

    Looks interesting but it’s “We’re behind the ABC” Channel Ten we’re talking about here… If no ones watching the TV channel then you’ll have less online chatter about it.

  18. Mr. J November 13, 2012 at 7:27 am -

    Definitely agree with your ‘only one chance’ theory, I downloaded and used fango during the Australian open, haven’t touched it since.

  19. JohnW November 13, 2012 at 5:24 am -

    “If your friends are logged in you can see what shows they are watching.” – That could be scary – especially if you’re “accidentally” watching late night SBS.

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