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TV social network GetGlue revamps iPhone app with 'hyper-personalized' content guide

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Having tallied over 4 million users since its launch in 2010, entertainment social network GetGlue has established a modest business by rewarding TV viewers with stickers (both virtual and real) for "checking in" to their favorite shows. But starting today with an update to its iOS app, GetGlue is hoping to become more than your second-screen viewing companion. The company is making a big push into discovery and recommendations with a new "What to Watch" feature. GetGlue's main guide has seen a major revamp, and will now pull from TV listings, video-on-demand services, and movie theaters to suggest what you may want to watch at any given moment. "We're trying to do ambitious and good things for the user," CEO Alex Iskold tells The Verge. "The world is in transition between linear TV and binge watching," he says.

A 'seamless' guide that doubles as a remote for DirecTV subscribers

So the company set out to design a "hyper-personalized" guide that compiles content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, HBO GO, and cable networks. "You can just open it up and it knows what time it is, it knows what's on TV, it knows all the fresh new movies and shows and helps you really consume that content." Iskold isn't describing a groundbreaking concept; other apps (like Fan — formerly Fanhattan) have offered similar functionality for ages. But Iskold says GetGlue wants to take things one step further, if cable providers will allow it. "We really want to be the play button as well," he says, describing a partnership with DirecTV that lets subscribers use the app as a remote control for their DVR. Two more of the "top six" US providers will see similar integration later this fall, but Iskold says, "we can't name names yet."

Putting moods ahead of genres

GetGlue wouldn't have much of a product without its community, and to that end you'll still be able to see what shows are currently trending, chat with other viewers, and see what your friends are watching. But the company also wants to make it easier to find content on a whim. "Probably the most fun and interesting thing that we've done is we've added a bunch of curated lists for people to enjoy," Iskold says. Those lists, which will change weekly, lump programming into themes like "mindless fun," "make me laugh," and even "background noise." Iskold says it's an attempt to "tap into moods and behaviors rather than the straight genre search."

With the new update, GetGlue also plans to shine a bigger spotlight on user-uploaded content. Referring to the GIFs, memes, and other creative work of users, Iskold says, "we realized this is sort of the 'next-gen' of fan expression." Ten to twenty percent of users actively contribute this content, a number he hopes will grow as the company places it "front and center." The new features arrive on iPhone today, with Android following suit within the next week. An iPad update will arrive in the fourth quarter. As for what's next, Iskold says GetGlue will make an even deeper push into social later this fall with content tagging and other "really fun" additions.