If you're one of the 250 million people who has ever used Shazam , the app that first gained popularity for helping you name that tune, you may have also used it in the past year while watching television to unlock extra info about your favorite stars and athletes at live events such as the Grammys, the Super Bowl, and the London Olympics. Now, the company wants you to Shazam any TV show you're watching at any time.
Starting today, Shazam for TV will support more than 160 channels in the U.S. to 80 million viewers. Whether on cable, satellite, or broadcast over-the-air, you can Shazam any of your favorite live shows (save for local programming) by opening up the app on your smartphone or tablet and hovering it at your TV screen. (You can also Shazam shows you've DVRd for up to a week.) That will pull up an index of additional show details, which might include the latest celebrity gossip and trivia for a late-night drama, or the most recent stats and scores for a Monday-night football game. Shazam is aiming to make the second-screen experience  so compelling, you'll start Shazaming commercials as you would shows or songs. For its 140 brand partners, which include companies such as Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance, and Pillsbury, Shazam is offering access to engaged users and minimizing friction between advertisers and their potential consumers.
"TV advertising offers amazing reach, but the level of engagement offered by a television ad is ultimately limited," Shazam CTO Doug Garland tells Fast Company. "So you’ve got this broad brush, very surface-level kind of interaction that’s possible with consumers, but you lack interactivity."
The challenge for Shazam, of course, is that we as viewers are inherently trained to be disinterested in commercials, the necessary pit stops we make en route to our favorite shows. We’ve become so accustomed to ads as a requisite part of the TV viewing experience that, in order to change the way we think about commercials, brands need to make the user feel like he or she has a choice in how to interact with an ad. If you Shazam an ad of your own volition, chances are you’re going to want to engage longer than the average 30-second TV spot, Garland says. Still, it's a big "if."
The good news for Shazam is more and more of us are already fiddling with some kind of second screen--whether that's a tablet or a smartphone--while we're in front of the TV. A recent Nielsen study  reveals that 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphone owners are on their devices at least once a month while watching TV, and nearly half the tablet owners are surfing both screens on a daily basis.
And though it's competing with others in the social TV space, such as GetGlue , Shazam has the unique advantage of well-established relationships with all the major TV networks, as well as massive reach, which means massive amounts of invaluable user data. Shazam is adding 2 million users a week and logging 10 million content tags a day. Combine those numbers with information users can choose to share with Shazam and you get a gold mine of data that reflects when those users are Shazaming commercials, what kind of content they interact with the most, and what really gets them to engage with a brand. And all of that means new revenue streams for Shazam, who can neatly feed that data back to networks and advertisers to help them make more informed choices about the content they produce.
"There’s a tendency for content creators and producers to think about what happens on the TV screen, with the second screen being more of an afterthought," Garland says. "But as more and more consumers engage on the second screen, I think you’re going to see them think more proactively about how they want to engage users in a way they just couldn’t before."
[Image: Flickr user x-ray delta one ]