FX Networks’ relaunched second-screen apps for Sons of Anarchy’s fifth season put a bourgeois glitter on the show’s story arc about a criminal motorcycle club.
With the free apps, available for Apple iOS or Android devices, fans can sync with the show in real time or with the season four Blu-ray Disc — and, perhaps just as critical for FX, shop for hundreds of items related to the show.
“We are excited to offer SOA fans a place where they can not only engage further with the show but also find the merchandise they want in an interactive and entertaining environment,” Eric Schrier, head of series development for FX and executive vice president of FX Productions, said.
The SOA apps, which FX promoted for the season-five premiere on Sept. 11, have been downloaded more than 425,000 times since their release. They were developed for FX and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment by Burbank, Calif.-based Magic Ruby, the former MediaEcho division of Technicolor that officially spun out as an independent company in July.
The Magic Ruby development team created the previous version of the app for Sons of Anarchy season four and the Blu-ray release of season three. According to FX and Magic Ruby, the app tripled sales of show merchandise and related products within its first month of release.
The most popular items purchased through the app have been the SAMCRO hoodie (which stands for “Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original”) for $49.95, along with the Lois Hill saddle ring ($188) worn by Gemma (played by Katey Sagal); and the Original KD’s 2120 sunglasses ($10) worn by Jax (Charlie Hunnam).
The app’s e-commerce order processing and fulfillment are handled by San Francisco-based Delivery Agent. CEO Mike Fitzsimmons said that mobile apps are becoming a larger piece of TV-related shopping, on track to represent more than 20% of the company’s revenue for 2012.
The new Sons of Anarchy apps include “Perspective,” a 360-degree view of the SOA clubhouse that lets users navigate the set using their device’s gyroscope or touchscreen. Another feature is a “social heat map” that displays show-related viewer tweets in real time and lets users search full episodes to find which scenes generated peak Twitter activity.
FX will add new content to the apps as the season progresses, including access to alternate scenes, character bios, trivia, production stills and storyboards.
“This app gives [Sons of Anarchy fans] everything they’ve been asking for: amazing high-def graphics, new season five content, features from previous seasons and access to all our cool SOA merch,” show creator Kurt Sutter said in a statement.
He added: “And it’s free, bitches.”