Social TV Plugs In to DirecTV

Startup Miso integrates with the set-top box

Social TV startup Miso wants to know what you're watching—and it may have found the perfect way to find out, through a just-announced partnership with DirecTV.

The Google Ventures-backed company demonstrated its new set-top box integration at its San Francisco office earlier this week. Now, if you're a DirecTV subscriber and you want to tell your friends that you're watching Doctor Who, you don't have to search through a long list of shows and episodes. Instead, once you've synced up Miso with your DirecTV system, the app automatically displays what you're watching, and you can check-in by just pressing a button. If you're not sure what to watch, the app provides additional details about each program, and it stays up-to-date as you channel surf.

This isn't the first time someone has tried to streamline the TV check-in process. For example, an app called IntoNow recognizes TV shows based on a few seconds of sound, and it was acquired earlier this year by Yahoo. But Miso's new feature seems even simpler.

Miso CEO Somrat Niyogi said that he has been pursuing partnerships with the cable and satellite TV operators for the past 18 months. The deal isn't exclusive, which means that DirecTV could work with other social TV companies, and for his part Niyogi promised that Miso would announce new partnerships with other operators and content providers soon. These companies are eager to tap into the "second-screen" experience of smartphones and tablets while people are watching TV, Niyogi said. In fact, Comcast already has its own social TV service, Tunerfish.

Niyogi has spoken in the past about the need for social TV startups to do something new and move beyond check-ins, and he said this week that these these partnerships could be the first step in that direction.

"The end game is to know what you're watching," he said. "We know where you are now [in an episode], so we can deliver something that's highly synchronized."

For example, Niyogi pointed out that if a celebrity on the East Coast is "live tweeting" along with a program, Miso could synchronize those tweets to show up at the right time for someone watching three hours later on the West Coast.