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Double Vision: Are Second-Screen Apps the Future of TV?
In a roundtable setting at the TV of Tomorrow Show (TVOT) in San Francisco last June, industry players engaged in an unusual political debate of sorts. At issue were not the usual election-time topics of jobs and the economy, but rather the future of interactive applications for television.

The key topic of debate centered around a growing number of second-screen applications on iPads and other broadband-connected devices that are synchronized with content on the TV screen. Such applications have enabled viewers to use their device to play show-related trivia games, follow program-related Tweets, Tweet with friends, get additional program information, access on-demand bonus clips and, more recently, get details about Olympic medal winners.

What seems like a cool new supplement for television touches off a heated debate within the television creative community. The argument centers upon whether the television screen itself should be the sole display for interactive television apps, or if it is better to rely upon a second- screen device that is synced to the primary TV screen. Either option raises significant issues about technology and business models that could affect the television industry for years to come.

For years, the cable industry and many related players attempted to capitalize on the promise of interactive television (ITV). Most of the efforts were hobbled by inadequate software solutions, limitations of STBs, slow deployments, questionable business models and uncertain consumer demand. More recently, the cable industry began to make headway with EBIF interactivity, but earlier this year the top MSOs scaled back their Canoe Ventures' effort to create a national platform for interactive advertising, a primary business rationale for ITV.

Second-screen apps hold the promise of achieving what single-screen ITV has been promising for years. They take advantage of the power of tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, game players and other connected devices to provide graphically rich interactive apps that enhance the TV viewing experience and promote audience engagement with their favorite programs. The apps can provide bonus content and upsell opportunities, bring social media into the TV realm and provide new avenues for advertising, branding and merchandising.

While ACR is struggling, cable MSOs could become the savior of second-screen apps - provided they are convinced that second-screen apps are worth saving. MSO efforts to expand services to connected devices, establish IP cloud-based user interfaces and promote TV Everywhere could lead cable operators to use their infrastructure for the type of apps now being created for ACR.

Double Vision: Are Second-Screen Apps the Future of TV? explores the prospects for second-screen apps technologies for cable operators and programmers. Included is a look at the market drivers, key challenges and cable's plans. While there are dozens of startups flooding into the companion TV apps arena, Heavy Reading has sought to identify suppliers involved in second-screen apps that are playing a role or could play a role with the cable industry and related players. The report profiles 13 companies.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpt below:
Table of Contents (cii1012_toc.pdf)
To state the obvious, the biggest driver behind the interest in second-screen apps is the growth of second-screen devices. Based on current sales levels, Apple will sell its 100 millionth iPad later this year. The growth of smartphones continues at a dizzying pace, now fueled by 4G and LTE technologies that enable richer video experiences. Second-screen apps have gained momentum and may become more than just a fad. Cable could play a larger role, pushed along by the market drivers listed in the following excerpt.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: ACTV8me Inc.; Audible Magic Corp.; Civolution B.V.; Coincident TV Inc.; ConnecTV, a trademark of SMRTV Inc.; Ensequence Inc.; IntoNow, from Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO); Shazam Entertainment Ltd.; Softel Ltd.; SyncTV Inc.; TVPlus, a product of Spot411 Technologies Inc.; Visiware Inc.; and Zeitera LLC
Total pages: 17
To view reports you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it, it can be obtained for free at the Adobe web site.