Are Second Screen Apps the Next Big Thing for TV?
There is a growing body of research saying that second screen apps - and especially social integration – could have a serious impact on the TV industry.
The mobile and digital technology researcher Mobile Interactive Group has predicted that smartphone adoption will drive TV and mobile multi-tasking in UK and US. This will result in a more engaged audience, significantly increasing programme interaction.
The great thing that the second screen offers is the ability to personalise the TV experience like never before. In the future, the second screen could connect viewers to the social graph, aid content discovery, encourage interactivity, and serve related content – all based on what’s playing on the TV.
But of course the key to success is being able to synch the second screen with the TV – without this the second screen experience can easily slip from enhancing the TV experience to creating a distraction.
Syncing TV and the Second Screen
Smartphone and tablet adoption is really starting to take off and a variety of operating systems competing for dominance. That means that companies need to look at synchronising the experience across multiple devices. It doesn’t matter if a viewer is on their laptop, PC, iPhone, or Android smartphone – to really make an impact the experience needs to be available to as many people as possible.
To create a compelling user experience, any second screen app needs to synch with the main TV – and finding out what’s playing on the TV is not easy. The most basic solution to this barrier is to create a second screen app for one TV show in particular – e.g. encourage viewers to download the “Top Gear” app to use while watching a show. However, this doesn’t completely solve the problem of offering related content in real time, regardless of the time zone or country. This problem is especially important in the USA is when TV programmes premiere at different times on the East and West coast.
Many companies are approaching the problem from different angles. ABC is using audio fingerprinting on the iPad to “hear” what the TV is playing. Similarly, Shazaam has just raised $32 million to “listen” to the TV, identify commercials, and provide related advertising content. However audio fingerprinting can require a high level of processing and infrastructure.
TV check-in, pioneered by the likes of GetGlue and Miso, is a less technology-intense way of synching the second screen. TV check-in encourages viewers to sign into a particular show, and chat about it as they watch. The major downside of this approach is that checking in takes an extra step – only the most highly engaged consumers participate.
Anthony Rose has forecasted the rise of automated systems that know the content we are watching now on the main TV so content on the companion can be synchronized. The cleanest way to synch the second screen is to interface with the set top box software. This requires intelligent set top boxes, but connected and smart TVs are steadily gaining a foothold in the market. The advantage of this approach is that the consumer doesn’t have to do anything – their tablet or smartphone “just knows” what they’re watching.
This perfectly complements the “lean back” attitude of TV, helping consumers embrace the second screen.
As synchronising the second screen becomes easier, expect to see TV becoming more interactive, engaging and personalised. The second screen is a trend that fits well into a lot of other developments rising to prominence in the TV industry – TV everywhere, social TV, and personalisation.
Emma Wells, Marketing Manager