SyFy Sync Takes Social TV to the Next Level

Anyone who knows me knows I am the world’s biggest movie nerd. As such, I am a big fan of the SyFy Channel’s show “Face Off” in which make-up artists compete to create the most stunning SFX characters in just two days.

And, if that isn’t cool enough for you, the way the network is leveraging social media could set the stage for all future programs.

They call it SyFy sync and the idea is simple enough. As you watch tv with your iPad, Droid tablet or other digital device … which let’s face it, we all do … the app will automatically detect where you are in the show and deliver exclusive content, contests, trivia, videos and chats. And, the best part is, it doesn’t limit the conversation to the SyFy Channel’s web site. With key plug-ins, you can easily see feeds from Facebook, Twitter and GetGlue so you can engage with fans where they are.

This second-screen content was created by Syfy producers, using the the related-content syndication specialist, WatchWith (formerly RCDb). Using the Mac-based program Showrunner, a time-based metadata editor for creating and syncing a metadata layer with video assets, the screen looks like a simple version of Final Cut Pro that allows you to add an event to the show’s timeline. The next version of Gloto’s Apple/Android app will use audio from the program to trigger content recognition, allowing use during re-broadcasts, or when playing back from a DVR.

“From the beginning, we were clear about our creative goals for the sync experience: the content needed to be additive and not duplicative. No simple re-use of assets across screens was allowed,” said Matthew Chiavelli, SyFy’s Digital VP of emerging platforms. “This approach drove us to create fresh, fun, interactive content and deliver an application that is truly enhancing the experience for viewers. This is the kind of creative commitment needed to produce a great sync-to-broadcast experience, and something our close relationship with show production allowed us to create.”

As a viewer and a social media marketer, I can say the approach works. I’ve said before that the future of Facebook is social TV, but with truly integrated content like this, that so easily lets you leverage the communities on other key SM channels, I may revise that sentiment to state the future is superb content that is seamlessly synced to Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

Of course, Syfy already has a history of interacting with its audience, with shows like “Ghost Hunters” employing concurrent web playout offering camera feeds that show viewers wouldn’t see on the live broadcast. So, it will be interesting to see if Sync is added to this year’s live Halloween show.

Either way, well done, Syfy! I can’t wait to see what you think of next!

5 comments

    1. “Other Digital Device”… last time I checked…there were no squirrels powering my phone or laptop…they are “Digital”. Really… Hollywood totally selling out to Corporate America… WHAT A SHOCK! Oh, for the good old Sixties… at least we weren’t afraid to think independently… disappointing,really Face-off, thought you were different!

      1. Hi Barb, while I appreciate that we can’t all enjoy the same television programs, I don’t quite get why it disappoints you that I like this particular show, nor do I quite see how liking this show means I don’t think independently. But, hey, feel free to be disappointed in me and I shall feel free to continue watching a fun program that showcases the make-up and SFX talents of some hard working people. As to the SyFy Sync not working on your phone, you do realize I do not work for SyFy and have no control over which devices are configured for their apps. And, just because this app doesn’t work on every device out there doesn’t make it any less significant in terms of social media engagement. Nor, do I feel there is any sort of corporate sell out here. From what I can tell shows like The Walking Dead, Face Off and others are simply creating an additional way to connect with their audiences and since viewers are online while watching anyway, giving them exclusive content seems like good business to me – for the show, the networks and the technology/internet providers & devices. But, once again, feel free to disagree with me on this.

  1. sorry but I stopped being a fan of SYFY once they got rid of sci-fi and canceled
    Eureka. If they want to come up with something, they should have actual science
    “fiction” than this reality programing.

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