Showtime is shutting down SHO Sync, an interactive TV app for mobile devices and select smart TVs, but hopes to reintroduce the feature in a different form sometime down the road.
Showtime has not announced when it will shut down the app, but today (July 9) the SHO Sync app for the iPad presents a message that it has indeed been discontinued on that platform. In recent days, Showtime has been alerting iPad users who have installed SHO Sync that the network intends to discontinue the app “soon,” while also providing users with a code that’s good for a 20% discount on Showtime products purchased at SHO.com.
Showtime launched the second-screen interactive app for the iPad and iPhone in the fall of 2012, and followed with a version optimized for LG-made smart TVs in August 2013. Both versions supported interactive elements, such as polls and trivia questions, that synced up with Showtime original series such as Dexter, Ray Donovan, Nurse Jackie, Penny Dreadful, Californication, Homeland, and Masters of Sex. In a smart twist, the app ran independent of the set-top box, triggered by Automated Content Recognition (ACR) elements that were supported whether the show was being watched live, on-demand or from a DVR recording.
Showtime didn’t say why it decided to discontinue SHO Sync, but a source at the programmer said Showtime was “able to gain incredible learnings about what our fans were interested in within each show, their storylines, characters, etc. – and the app helped us expand the stories and engage our audience beyond what was happening on the screen.”
With several seasons of interactive, synched content now salted away for many of Showtime’s most popular shows, “we ultimately believe that this type of experience will have more legs on platforms that already have a built in audience, like our very engaged social platforms for each of these series,” the source added.
And the core capabilities of SHO Sync may reappear in a different form. Showtime, for example, hopes to incorporate those interactive TV features into its existing TV Everywhere product, Showtime Anytime, as well as its new standalone, over-the-top streaming service, which went live on Tuesday (July 7) in partnership with four distribution partners -- Apple, Roku, Hulu and PlayStation Vue.
Other programmers, meanwhile, are trying to deepen their engagement with viewers by splicing interactive features into some of their shows. Of recent note, Syfy and LG launched an interactive feature in concert with the June 12 season three premiere of Defiance. That interactive feature is being offered on ACR-enabled LG TVs with Netcast, and will soon be offered on LG smart TVs running the webOS platform. LG’s recognition and interactive platform is powered by Cognitive Networks. Syfy is tapping Watchwith to power the in-program interactive elements.