Miso crowdsources second-screen content with SideShows

Fresh off a $4 million funding round led by Khosla Ventures, Miso is rolling out the latest update to its second-screen application that allows users, networks and brands to create second-screen experiences that go along with shows they’re watching. The new product, called SideShows, adds a crowdsourced aspect to the types of companion content that viewers see when they launch the Miso application.

SideShows can be created to display content that is synced with what’s happening on the screen. So for instance, a SideShow creator can highlight interesting quotes that happen during a show, insert trivia questions, point viewers to associated content on third-party websites and the like. And if the creator happens to be the network that broadcasts the show, the platform will allow the SideShow creator to insert ads that match product placement in the show. Networks that have used the platform include Showtime, (s CBS) FOX, (s NWS) Food Network, DIRECTV’s Audience Network, (s DTV) Halogen, Science Channel and CBS Television Distribution.

While SideShows will allow networks to create interesting companion experiences to on-screen TV content, what’s probably most important here is the crowdsourced aspect of the platform. It will initially be available to Miso superusers — which, let’s be honest, are those most likely to actually create SideShows — but will soon be opened up to others, CEO Somrat Niyogi told me in an interview. It will basically allow anyone to create and own the second screen experience, even if they have no connection to the show whatsoever.

Of course, that raises some questions: How do users choose if multiple SideShows are available for the same episode? What does Miso plan to do if someone just makes a blatantly offensive app? Will there be any sort of promoted access for networks or other sponsors?

For now, SideShows will be served up to users in a fairly democratic fashion, according to Niyogi: If there are multiple options (a good problem to have, he says), the Miso app will highlight the most popular, whether it’s created by a user or a network. That should also help weed out low-value SideShows, he believes.

Frankly, I can see why a network might be interested in using the platform to promote its shows or highlight products placed in an episode, but not quite clear how many actual users will want to go through the process of creating these experiences for other users. But hey, it’s early days and who knows how users are actually interacting with these second-screen applications — except maybe the app makers themselves.

Opening up the platform and allowing people to create free content can’t be the worst thing in the world, especially if it works. And if not, hey, Miso tried, right?