GetGlue Unveils Major Update, Brands it ‘HD’

CEO Alex Iskold wants to own the conversation around entertainment

GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold unveiled a major update to the popular check-in app on Wednesday at the Social TV Summit at the Bel-Air Country Club, hoping to make his app the first destination for conversation about entertainment.

GetGlue, which now boasts more than three million users, was one of the first companies to create an app for television viewers to use while watching a show. Both start-ups and networks have entered this space, recognizing that viewers use smartphones and tablets concurrent to their television experience.

GetGlue’s specialty is the “check-in,” which lets viewers check in to what they are watching and earn stickers for using the app. GetGlue then made it possible to have a conversation around the show, including your own comments and those of others.

GetGlueHD, which will debut later this summer, introduces personalized recommendations of what to watch, as well as personalized streams for content related to the show.  

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“It’s not what’s on TV but what you watch,” Iskold (pictured left) told the crowd. “It’s new episodes of the show you love right there for you and real-time recommendations for shows you might enjoy.”

Their engineers have spent six months finding a formula that uses past check-ins, what friends like and Facebook likes. Seventy-five percent of GetGlue users connect to the service through Facebook.

"Users want to know how to find what they should to watch so before they check-in, we tell them," Iskold told TheWrap after his presentation. "We couldn't build this before because we didn't have all this data."

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The new guide is no longer set up like a grid but now like a calendar, so whenever you open up the app you can see what shows are coming up for you by date.

Iskold said the company has been “incredibly secretive” about it, wanting to ensure that no one found out about the major update.

Numerous companies, such as Miso, Yahoo’s IntoNow and Viggle, have offered different takes on the second-screen app. Networks have also offered their own companion experiences.

Most in the space expect both consolidation and standardization, and one person asked Iskold if he had had discussions about partnering with a competitor.

“Not that I know of,” Iskold quipped.

When TheWrap asked Iskold what he made of his competitors, he noted a major distinction. Many apps have tried to offer content related to the show during the show.

Instead, GetGlue will focus on conversation — tweets from the stars of a show or Facebook comments from friends. As for video clips related to a show, those are for after it concludes.

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"People want additional content about shows but not when watching shows," Iskold told TheWrap. "It's distracting you with polls, quizzes and all this stuff. Why are you taking time away from the first screen? If I'm watching 'Breaking Bad,' do I wanna take a quiz five minutes in? Maybe later."

The company, which has raised tens of millions in capital, including a $12 million round in December, is still tiny in terms of users and revenue. However, Iskold believes that this latest update will enable it to start monetizing the platform.