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family-tvBritish startup Screen Reach today unveiled a social TV platform called Screach that should answer the question, “Why would you bother checking in to a TV show?”

Companies large (like Comcast) and small (like Miso) are experimenting with ways that users can check in to TV shows and share what they’re watching with friends. Screach is pursuing similar goals, but chief executive Paul Rawlings said the answer isn’t just a simple check in.

Instead, Rawlings wants to make the check in a byproduct of some other, more engaging activity. For example, if you’re watching a game show, the show could offer a reward if you play along at home; then as a side effect, the app would also post a message on Facebook saying that you were watching and playing.

Screach can connect to real-world locations and events too — the company tested the Screach app with a museum, where users could enter codes into the app to bring up additional information, plus audio and video content. And advertisers could offer coupons and other rewards to viewers when they watch and check in to ads.

It’s an exciting vision, so my real question was whether Screen Reach, rather than a more established media player, is the company that will make it a reality. The company is just unveiling its platform today (there was a test application available for the iPhone earlier), and now it’s starting to look for app designers and content partners, so it doesn’t have any big deals to announce yet — which means consumers can’t download the app and immediately start interacting with their favorite shows.

One of the features Rawlings emphasized was ScreachXML, a language the company has also developed for creating interactive content. Designers without any previous programming experience can supposedly learn the language in an hour, meaning that they can create apps themselves, rather than going through a developer. All of those interactive experiences are aggregated with the Screach app, which the company’s website describes as a “super app”. Partner shows can provide you with a code that you enter into the app in order to bring up the content associated with that show.

Screen Reach was part of the Difference Engine incubator program and has raised $420,000 in funding. Right now Screach works on iPhone and Android devices, but the company is working to add other devices.

Screach Trailer from Screach on Vimeo.

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