BuddyTV improves the television watching experience by making it more interactive. The business is based off of the idea that people have iPads and smartphones on while watching television,  to interact with other people that are watching the same show at the same time. This week, the company is launching a new feature to go after the broadcast tv market.

It’s becoming the TVGuide Channel for the 21st century. With comments.

The user initially installs the app and can get additional content for TV shows, including interactive features, commentary, and the ability to discuss the show with other viewers. It also provides a customizable channel guide, enabling users to list their favorite channels and be notified when favorite shows are on.

The new feature, the channel guide for over-the-air broadcasts (OTA), i.e. television broadcasts that are pushed out to viewers wirelessly, is BuddyTV’s latest market. The broadcasts are free to watch and can even be viewed in high definition.

And this OTA market is a big one. According to a report by the media research firm Nielsen, the over-the-air broadcast market covers more than 11 million people out of the roughly 110 million people who own televisions. Subtract the users that don’t have Internet access, and the relevant group for BuddyTV is roughly 6 million. That group has common viewing habits and has been relatively neglected by the media industry.

From a business standpoint, the new channel guide is a savvy move. Instead of pushing for the largest portion of the market – ie, cable – BuddyTV is pushing for a neglected but sizable slice of the market. It has a launching point from which to solidify its position in the second-screen market, without having to compete with larger companies like the TVGuide.

BuddyTV has been able to create a product for a market that is logistically hard to tackle. The company has gone through more than 40,000 zip codes and compiled information on the networks, channels, lineups, and available content. If that sounds like an operations nightmare, that’s because it is. Nearly every region is different, with different schedules, channel numbers, and stations. This may set the company apart from competing startups.

Monetizing the business could prove difficult. BuddyTV may easily own the market in short order, but there’s a reason that not many other people pay attention to OTA. The potential customers are seen as having inexpensive spending habits.

Still, one of the biggest reasons that over-the-air broadcasting has taken off recently is that the recession has made everyone’s spending habits a bit less expensive. Essentially, people can’t afford cable, so they go with OTA.

With the closest equivalent being local newspaper listings, BuddyTV is entering largely uncharted territory. It could end up being a market that is incredibly valuable, or it could end up being a waste of resources. To be fair to the company, if the OTA broadcast market share has been sustained this far into the digital age, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Which means that there is plenty of time to figure out the money side of the equation.

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