As Facebook and Twitter add features aimed specifically at the TV-watching experience, it sounds like bad news for smaller social TV services like GetGlue. But the startup just announced a victory of its own.
For the past few months, the company has been working with FX, and it just launched the cable channel's new social TV service, FX Has the Movies. CEO Alex Iskold says GetGlue has been adding check-in widgets to the websites of other channels and shows for a while now, but this deal is different, because it's so focused on GetGlue check ins. If a user wants to participate in the site, they have to create a GetGlue account, and when they check-in to an FX show, that's also shared on the main GetGlue site.
This lends some credence to Iskold's big vision of turning GetGlue into the platform for social TV (and other types of media), similar in some ways to Facebook's goal of becoming the "social layer" for every service on the Web. Right now, most users check-in through GetGlue itself, but all of those other partnerships are starting to "add up collectively."
At the same time, Iskold said he didn't insist that FX use GetGlue exclusively: "I don't mind giving them the choice." However, requiring users to log up with GetGlue seemed like the less confusing approach. And FX isn't banishing other social networks—FX Has the Movies also includes a plea for users to promote the site on Facebook and Twitter.
Back in July, Somrat Niyogi, CEO of social TV startup Miso, said he was skeptical about any service that focuses too much on check-ins, wondering, "What happens if Facebook decides to build TV check-ins?" Now, Facebook has started moving in that direction, adding the ability for users to automatically share what they're watching on sites like Hulu and Netflix.
When asked about his bigger competitors, Iskold offers the standard startup sound bite about how the announcements offer "validation" for his approach. He also admits that it puts more pressure on GetGlue to be innovative and try to stay ahead. Hence GetGlue's new additions like real-time chat.
Fundamentally, he said, "we're all coming to this from different perspectives." He argues that GetGlue's approach, with its check-ins, badges, and platform, is a better fit for both TV fans and brands.