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CTAM Summit: TV Apps Get Syncing Feeling

Orlando -- Five cable networks with their pulse on second-screen TV viewers will square off in the "Sync to TV Competition" at the CTAM Summit here Tuesday, starting at 9 a.m.

The head-to-head competition will pit recent apps from A+E Networks, Discovery Communications, Showtime Networks, NBCUniversal's Syfy and Turner Broadcasting System's TNT. Each contestant will present the app's content strategy, consumer interaction data and key takeaways.

The winner will be selected by session attendees, who will score the apps on functionality, user experience, creativity, scalability, business impact and consumer engagement. Here are descriptions of the contenders:

Storage Wars: Fan Challenge

The co-viewing app for the reality series, which features a team of professional auction hunters in California, has gaming components including the ability to participate in bidding auctions, as well as other synchronized digital content such as show trivia, quizzes, poll questions and cast information.

Storage Wars viewers were able to earn points while they watched the show while competing against other app users. The "Fan Challenge" experience was available for iPad, iPhone, Android handsets and on the website. According to A+E, users averaged 23 minutes and 48 seconds of engagement per week with a 21% content click-through rate and an average of 2.3 content shares per user.

Discovery Channel
‘Shark Week' Plus for iPad

The audio-synced companion viewing experience was created for Discovery's "Shark Week 2012," the 25th anniversary of the programming franchise. The app, powered by second-screen startup TVplus, provided viewers with content complementing five Shark Week premieres plus exclusive photos, behind-the-scenes information, trivia, interactive infographics, "Shark Week Bingo" and more.

Shark Week Plus users averaged 28 minutes and 17 seconds of engagement time per episode, with click-through rates of 57.5% for content, 65.5% for polls and quizzes, and 23.5% for ads.

Showtime Sync

The premium programmer's app provides exclusive content to viewers on their iPads while they watch Showtime on-air. The app automatically listens to determine if the viewer is watching an enhanced episode, then presents synchronized special features, trivia, polls, predictions and other features. Showtime Sync works on live, prerecorded, on-demand, online streaming or DVD video, as long as the sound is audible to the iPad. Viewers can also use the app to browse through existing bonus content any time.

Syfy Sync

Available for iPad and Android tablets, the Syfy Sync app uses audio-content recognition technology to sync with on-air programming. The app launched in August 2012, timed to the season three premiere of Face Off, a reality competition show featuring prosthetic makeup artists. Exclusive additional content includes photos, video, behind-the-scenes access, polls, interaction with the show's host, judges and contestants, and direct links to social media sites.

Syfy Digital worked with Face Off's producers and talent to create extended versions of judges' critiques, detailed photography of the contestants' work and high-resolution versions of contestant sketches. Additionally, the social feeds provided in the app let the show's host and judges to interact directly with fans via Twitter in real time during the broadcast.

'Falling Skies' App

The co-viewing app for the sci-fi series lets fans become part of the 2nd Mass defense, a regiment of humans fighting the alien hordes in Falling Skies. Key features of the app, launched in June 2012, include "takeovers" - which literally take over the viewer's smartphone or tablet with content relating to what's on TV - as well as polls, trivia, behind-the-scenes tidbits, exclusive digital content and social TV integration.

The app, available for tablets and iOS and Android smartphones, works whether the viewer is watching a live broadcast, DVR recording or VOD. The Falling Skies app was built in-house through a joint partnership between TNT, Turner Studios and the AMPT Technology Group.