Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Review of BuddyTV as a SecondScreen experience

BuddyTV was a surprise find for me.  I was impressed with the ease of setup and the option to command and control my AT&T U-Verse set top box (which was also very easy to set up).  While there are certainly improvements that can me made to the Social and Stimulating aspects, it is clearly a step ahead of many others in Simple, Seamless and Discovery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Review of Clicker as a SecondScreen experience has been around about as long as GetGlue has.  Thought it was recently acquired by CBS Interactive, there has not been a significant amount of feature enhancement to the iPad app or the web site.  Essentially, the app serves as a decent tool for looking up a movie or TV title and finding out which service provider has it (I think Fanhattan is currently better at it), but it does not do much else.

- Simple.  It does not control the first screen, but will launch iTunes, Hulu+, or Netflix apps (closing Clicker of course).  The registration process (Facebook) is, however, very easy to do.  Very low.

- Social.  While on the surface, it seems to have the social tools of GetGlue or IntoNow, there is no Twitter feed integration and the majority of the social connections is just "checking in" that you are watching something (posting that to Facebook or Twitter).  You can't really follow other comments (or at least, not easily).  Low.

- Seamless.  The original point of the web site and now the iPad app was to provide a sort of uber-TV guide of which OTT service can meet your content needs as a consumer.  The web site does a better job than the iPad app (YouTube is integrated for example), but the Fanhattan app has a better UI for this functionality.  As stated above, you can launch some of the content directly on your iPad, but cannot search your DVR, channel-line up, local area network, etc.  Medium.

- Stimulating.  While it has a leg up on GetGlue in that it has episode level detail, most of the detail is incredibly cursory.  Some of the descriptive meta data about episodes is not even complete.  There is no integration of other sources of meta data (photos, Wikipedia, IMDB, etc).  Very low.

- Discovery.  Instead of a "Trending" view of showing you what to watch, you have a "Popular" view (based on the total number of check-ins).  You can also see what friends are watching, but Fanhattan does a much better job of both--and I wouldn't really call either function Discovery. Low.

- Simple.  Very low.
- Social.  Low.
- Seamless.  Medium.
- Stimulating.  Very low.
- Discovery.  Low.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Review of GetGlue as a SecondScreen Experience

GetGlue has been around perhaps the longest of any of the apps out there.  Functionally, it is essentially a sophisticated Twitter/Facebook sharing app that allows you to share and review comments about major entertainment categories (TV, Film, Music, Books, etc).  For its relative longevity and perceived high install base, it has relatively rudimentary SecondScreen functionality.

- Simple.  While the app itself is simple to setup and use, there is no ability to use it to control your first screen.  There is no audio or other synchronization for the app to tell itself what you are watching.  You literally search for what you want to comment on (like Twitter).  None.

- Social.  It allows you to rather easily integrate your Facebook friends and Twitter followers so that you can watch their "stream" of comments about the entertainment topics, but does not integrate the wider Twitter world as easily as some of the other apps (IntoNow, Fanhattan, Twitter itself).  Recently it has deployed a badge system similar to FourSquare.  Medium.

- Seamless.  There is no current capability to integrate the solution with multiple video services.  None.

- Stimulating.  Other than the social aspect (reading other viewer comments), the descriptive information (meta data) about the items in the category rarely gets below title level (ie no episode level details such as IntoNow, IMDB, Fanhattan).  You can see reviews and comments, but only again on a title level.  Low.

- Discovery.  There are some elements of discovery in the app: you can see your friends' recommendations, you can get the system to recommend titles to you based on your ratings of films, and there is a "Trending" category that allows you to see what are the most popularly engaged titles.  Medium.

There is both a laptop and an Android experience in addition to the iPad experience shown above.

My overall summary:
- Simple. None.
- Social. Medium.
- Seamless. None.
- Stimulating. Low.
- Discovery. Medium.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Watching sports with a SecondScreen

I realize is Thanksgiving Day and that I should be focused on Turkey and football, not a blog.  However, I had a neighbor ask me an interesting question earlier today--"what is the best app to watch football with?"  I thought about all of the apps out there trying to do something with video and even spent a few moments previously and again today on some of those apps.  Here are some quick thoughts:

First, all of the apps key off live information, which is probably the most likely use case for any user.  So, if you had to Tivo/DVR the game, any one of these apps is going to spoil the ending for you right away by showing the final score.

Second, none of the apps use any kind of sync technology (other than the real time nature of the live event) to bring relevant information to the screen (in other words, it's great for scores, stats, and Twitter updates, but not contextual content).  Ironically, in this use case, the eBay app works because it picks up the two opposing teams for appropriate team paraphernalia.

Also, in terms of evaluation, keep in mind that none of these will control your 1st screen (Simple), they have varying elements of Social via Twitter and Facebook updates, no real Seamless integration, plenty of Stimulating content (scores, play-by-play, graphics, etc), and the only Discovery element is what teams are in the RedZone (NFL '11) or any alerts you have configured for your teams.  Stimulating doesn't cover commerce (buy the t-shirt or hat) and no contextual adds.  Still, isn't that the point of watching a live game (to be focused on the game)?

- IntoNow.  As I noted in an earlier blog, they do a decent job on major sports showing current score/stats, relevant comments from Friends and Everyone during the game, and usually a relevant Twitter feed (The Dallas game feed is somehow keyed to the whole NFL).  You can "check-in" and share comments, etc.

- ESPN Scorecenter XL.  Has all of the scores, play-by-play, and alerts for your teams for many global sports.  No play graphics, no audio stream.  Plenty of team video highlights as the game goes on/finishes.

- NFL '11.  Not surprising, the best 2nd screen app for today's games.  It not only has the score, the stats, but has a live play-by-play graphic, play-by-play commentary, near-live highlight videos, and an option for live a live audio feed.  Missing better Twitter and Facebook integration (for this app, I would expect at the play level during the play-by-play updates).

- NBA Courtside, MLB At Bat.  While neither is in season, they are both similarly engaging as the NFL '11 app.  The Courtside app gives you a graphic showing you where the shots occurred, who is on the leader board for points, rebounds, etc.  At Bat shows you the pitch-by-pitch speeds and location and has plenty of up to date player stats while you are watching.  They did a Fifa WorldCup app previously as well (graphics, scores, stats, alerts0, video highlights).

Other apps where I am less experienced:

- NFL SundayTicket.  Requires a DirecTV Sunday Ticket subscription.  Really designed as a 1st screen app.

- CBS Sports.  Very similar to the ESPN app. Give you scores, stats, and play-by-play (plus graphics) for many global sports.  Has some rudimentary Facebook and Twitter integration.

- Yahoo Sportacular.  Similar to CBS Sports app.  Good graphics.  Good play by play.  Does major global sports.  No audio fee.

- theScore.  Looks very, very similar to the Yahoo Sportacular app.  Almost too similar.  Same global sports, similar graphics, stats, and play-by-play.

- Scoremobile.  Not really designed to be a SecondScreen app.  Designed to be the 1st screen substitute when you can't watch the game.  Great play-by-play feeds, odds presentation, pre-game highlights, etc.

A smattering of sports apps.  Should give you an idea of what is out there today.  Enjoy the turkey!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Review of Watch With eBay as a SecondScreen Experience

If you download the update to the regular eBay iPad app, you will notice a new icon on the bottom left-hand side of the screen that says "Watch with eBay".  Honestly, the experience as a #SecondScreen app or otherwise is disappointing.  While the registration process is rather simple (your ZIP code, your provider), many of the channels in the channel line-up (I use AT&T U-verse) are missing and the items offered for the channels that do exist are only based on the title of the program (not the contents)--they are not even based on the descriptive metadata of the title itself (ie the summary of the Seinfeld episode, etc).  There is no audio fingerprinting (recognition) like you find in IntoNow and no apparent presence of audio watermarking--nothing to tell the iPad what channel or episode you are watching (you have to type it in).

- Simple.  It does not allow control of the 1st screen in any way what so ever.  In fact, the use of the app itself is not "simple" either.  You tell it what channel you are watching and it puts loosely related items up based on the title in the EPG.

- Social.  I couldn't find a way to share the items I was looking at or the experience in anyway (except passing the iPad to my wife).

- Seamless.  No integration with any video services.  

- Stimulating.  The app's purpose is an attempt to make the content experience richer by allowing you to buy relevant items--it just disappoints in that endeavor.

- Discovery.  I wish I could say it let you discover items to purchase (not the point of this axis), but it would be faster for your to type in the title of the show than to change the channel in the app as currently implemented.

I honestly did not take the time to check for an Android or laptop experience.

My overall summary (I hope this improves quickly):

- Simple.  None.
- Social.  None.
- Seamless.  None.
- Stimulating.  Low (a very disappointing low).
- Discovery.  None.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Review of IntoNow as a SecondScreen Experience

If you haven't tried IntoNow on your iPad, you should.  It does a decent job of some of the things people are expecting from #SecondScreen experiences, though I do believe it will leave you wanting for a deeper, richer experience.

- Simple.  While it doesn't allow you to control the 1st screen at all, it does quickly identify the show you are watching thru its audio finger printing technology called SoundPrint (it does have trouble if someone is talking in the background).  It did a decent job with live broadcast, news and sports.  It also did a decent job with DVR'd material, even to the point of determining which episode of a syndicated series you were watching (an improvement over 6 months ago).

- Social.  IntoNow does a decent job of integrating relevant Tweets about the show you are watching.  It also allows you to quickly see what your friends are watching (assuming they have also registered and are using IntoNow).

- Seamless.  It has some very basic integration with iTunes, launching your iPad directly to the link to rent/buy the show (which is not a useful use cases since you are in theory already watching it...but could be useful if you are perusing your friend's viewing history).

- Stimulating.  It has some rudimentary integration with IMDB to give the viewer some additional details about the show's actors, etc.  When you are watching the news, it has related stories and related current Twitter trends about the topic--both of which are useful.  It does not currently integrate Wikipedia or the official website of the TV show, though I am sure that is an obvious next step.  

- Discovery.  While there is actually a "discovery" button, I haven't found anything it has turned up very useful.  In theory, Discovery should be recommending content to me based on trends, my preferences, and hopefully some variable giving it the opportunity to "surprise me" (vs. telling me I might like what other people are watching).  But so far, the app isn't doing much for me for recommendations or discovery.

It's also available on the Android, but there is not a laptop experience.

My overall summary (as of Nov 2011--I am expecting them to make improvements):

- Simple.  None (though simple to use).
- Social.  Medium.
- Seamless.  Low.
- Stimulating.  Low.
- Discovery.  None/Low.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Other SecondScreen organization thoughts

@TVappmarket had a good article this morning ( ) reviewing Umami's categorization of the space as (shown below).  They are both great ways to look at this if you are an app writer or maybe even and investor, but they are both views of the space from the business development world, not thru the consumers eyes.  For this potential change in consumer behavior to take hold, we need to focus as an industry segment on how consumers will perceive value of these new TV viewing experiences.  I think using that lense (which I outlined in a previous blog as Social, Simple, Stimulating, Seamless and Discovery) will keep all of us focused on pushing this revolution forward.

To continue the conversation, follow me @ChuckParkerTech

Umami's thoughts on organization of efforts in the space:

1) Network-initiated: apps built by the TV networks themselves, generally for a single show, since most viewers tend to be fans of programs, not content companies. The HBO Go and Bravo Now apps are obvious exceptions.
2) Check-in plays: low on content, generally focused on conversation and game mechanics
3) Guidance plays: focused on recommending programming to consumers across multiple platforms, based on algorithms and social cues

@TVappmarket's concept of organizing efforts in this #SecondScreen / #2ndScreen Space:

Companion TV is about automated and curated contextual content using temporal metadata and algorithms or human editing that's provided snackable content relevant to the format.
Play-along TV is about synchronous and asynchronous interaction and engagement with shows. Usually in realtime, but also with recorded shows - sports and games shows lend well to this genre. Game mechanics are a key element to this genre - with voting, predicting, quizzes, rating and community dynamics all playing a role. 
Transmedia Storytelling is a fork of multimedia and crossmedia that tools up the writers to use different technologies, such as second screen, social network, etc. to carry the narrative in new ways - using movements such as co-creation, ARGs, and crowd sourcing to bring the audience closer to the story.  Essentially it is the technique of telling stories across multiple platforms and formats using current and emerging digital technologies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Organizing thoughts around the SecondScreen Space

I spent a lot of time lately discussing where I think the 2nd screen space might be headed and what its impact on consumers might be.  I find that most of the people I engage with, even those very adept in this space, don't have enough of a sense of what's out there to understand if some new announcement of a company, service, or app is meaningful or not.  So, here are some ideas on how to organize our thoughts around this space: