Yap.TV a virtual living room for show lovers

Startup Yap.TV believes that whether shows are streamed over the Internet, airwaves, or cable lines people will always want to talk about what they are watching.

Yap.TV software for Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch devices lets show watchers engage in real time on Twitter, Facebook or the firm's own social network.

"We mated the television program guide with the Twitter stream and social networks to basically allow you to see what everyone in the world is talking about right now," Yap.TV co-founder Shawn Cunningham told AFP on Friday.

"So when you zap into a show, you are immersed in the experience."

The San Francisco-based firm is working on versions of the "social TV" platform for computer Web browsers and smartphones or tablets running on Google's Android software.

Yap.TV backers include former Apple executive David Austin, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is an advisor to the startup.

"We thought we could create a social world for television content, which people love to talk about almost more than anything else," Cunningham said.

"It was really things like the iPad that opened the gateway," he added. "A second-screen device perfect for this type of activity."

Yap.TV lets people lounge comfortably with shows on their televisions and cherished social networks in their laps in the form of iPad, iPhone or iPod touch devices.

The free software gathers "tweets" and comments from Facebook friends watching the same shows. A custom Yap social network also lets viewers share what they enjoy or hate about what is on-screen.

"TV watching is inherently social; people love to talk about what movies or shows they watched," Cunningham said.

"We figured out millions of people were already talking about this stuff but didn't have a place to go," he added.

Yap.TV was inspired by personal experiences of founders Trevor Stout, Marius Seritan, and Cunningham.

Co-founder Trevor Stout found himself scouring Twitter for comments by fellow fans of an "American Idol" amateur talent hunt show.

He noticed his wife exchanging text messages with a half-dozen or so friends as they watched episodes of a "Bachelorette" reality show at disparate venues.

Yap.TV was crafted to be a "virtual living room" where people in different locations could essentially watch shows together and chat in real time.

"We re-invented the TV Guide and made it social," Cunningham said. "With iPads and social networks, there is a perfect storm right now to enable this."

Since kibitzing about shows takes place on "second screens," television lovers aren't pestered by text boxes or other distractions in their main viewing experiences.

Yap.TV allows viewers to do spot polls on burning questions such as will a certain character fall in love with another.

"Having user-generated content is fun," Cunningham said. "We tried to appeal to the many levels of the TV fan."

Yap.TV worked with a French technology firm to build a chat engine so people could have private online exchanges with "the five friends to whom you would really say what is on your mind."

Yap.TV plans to make money from online ads and, perhaps, from selling anonymous statistics about television viewing patterns.

"We merged a TV Guide with your social network, so it is easy for us to target ads that hit you in your interests," Cunningham said.

Yap.TV for iPhone and iPod touch launched in December, while the iPad version was released in late September. Membership was reported to be in the "tens of thousands."

"We think the mass market potential is in the second screen," Cunningham said. "The numbers of people texting or doing something online while watching television keeps skyrocketing."

Nearly a third of Yap.TV downloads have been outside the United States, with interest particularly keen in France and Britain.

"Millions of people were doing it, but in fragmented ways," Cunningham said. "We created a real home for them."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz