Review: Weather Channel Co-viewing with Media-Sync iPad App

From The Edge SynchronizingThe Weather Channel was the latest network to try the Nielsen Media-Sync platform for iPad with last week’s premiere of From the Edge with Peter Lik.

After spending a few weeks trying ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy app from Media-Sync (see reviews of the first, second and third enabled episodes), it was interesting to see another network’s implementation.  TWC made much less use of social media and advertising in this initial outing, but more use of embedded browser windows in the synchronized content feed to showcase photos.

Media-Sync takes advantage of inaudible cues embedded in the regular program audio for Nielsen ratings.  The iPad’s microphone can then detect where a viewer is in the program and serve synchronized content in the app.

The trick is once you know a viewer is watching a show and where they are in the program (regardless of DVR use or time zone), how do you want to interact with that person?

Providing additional info during a reality-based show like this felt very natural.  The app provided a lot of the same kind of info I would normally look up on sites such as Wikipedia while watching, anyway.

From the Edge Double Picture ModuleThe From the Edge app tried a few different things than Grey’s Anatomy.  A module in the sync feed for a photo gallery presented two pictures and invited me to tap for a larger view.  Tapping opened an embedded browser window. I then wanted to swipe to get to the next image in typical iOS fashion, but had to close the browser to go back to the sync feed and select the next picture.

I see benefits in using the embedded browser because you can pull in content from the Web, such as the show’s photo contest on Facebook, without closing the app.  However, I also wonder whether some users will just leave the embedded browser open and not realize they need to close it to return to the synchronized feed.

Not all pictures in the sync feed were “tappable” (is that a word that can be used outside of beer kegs?).  I found myself trying to tap on all the pictures in the synchronized modules once I realized some had larger views. Since this is a show about a photographer, I want to be able to see big, gorgeous versions of all the pictures.  Some modules did feature large pictures, while others were more like large thumbnails without any link to a larger version.

The only social media components were some prepared Twitter and Facebook messages you could post after logging in to either service in the app.  The app’s premiere did not use social media modules such as check-ins seen with Grey’s Anatomy Media-Sync.  There was a “Connect with the show” link to open embedded browser windows with the show’s Twitter feed and Facebook wall.

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