For a man who went ten years without owning a television, the explosion of the second screen market arrives with a freshness akin to hearing that intergalactic travel is now possible. “Ten years?” you ask. “Were you lost in Alaska?” Actually, yes. Lucky for me though, I’ve arrived as the cost of an amazing flat screen has fallen enough to land within my budget and just in time to witness the second screen boom. Although, I might need a smarter TV soon…
Just so I don’t offend anyone as I jump aboard the conversation, for the purposes of this article let’s consider the second screen as a portable device complementary to a television. This relatively new market has a lot of potential, which has everyone from TV manufacturers, network executives, service providers, and app startups eager to stake out their turf. Nearly 300 million people watch TV every day in the U.S. and more and more watchers are paying attention to the second screen. Reports indicate 86% of TV viewers use mobile devices while watching television. Is the age of social television is upon us?
I Can’t Wait to Do This
Maybe my excitement is exaggerated after my long estrangement from the tube, but there’s a lot of cool uses for the second screen. Just to name a few:
- Remote control function
- Programming guides and DVR
- Streaming and watching shows
- Secondary materials–behind the scenes, off the main screen extra goodies.
The last category is rife with creative app opportunity. Forgive my dude moment and let me point out that this could be the sport lover’s heaven. I don’t follow cycling at all, but during the 2012 Giro d’Italia, viewers could check out rider stats, biographies, news, stage reviews, weather info… ahh!
Why Everyone Wants In on the Action
67 million iPads sold in the first two years after its release. It took Apple over three years to sell that many iPhones, five years for that many iPods, and 24 years for that many Macs. Tablet app spending was already at $1.4 billion last year, and expected to climb as high as $2.6 billion this year. The market is already huge and promises to change the television industry permanently.
The Second Screen Wave
Writers, producers, executives must now worry about content on the second screen. TV manufacturers undoubtedly will want to make smart TVs better able to interact with tablets and mobile devices.
No one is sure exactly how the new TV experience will evolve. A lot of questions remain unanswered. Which apps will be compatible with which shows? What will they do? Will viewers care more about social interaction or alternative content? Will a Facebook for the second screen emerge?
So many companies are pursuing different paths, the industry is in the molten stage. Hot and excitable. They’re each doing different things, but here are six companies in the market already worth watching closely:
- Miso $5.5 million if funding and climbing
- Yap.tv Apple friendly
- GetGlue $12 million in funding and 2 million users
- Zeebox U.K. company coming to the U.S.
- Shazam 175 million worldwide users already
- IntoNow bought up by Yahoo for $20-$30 million just 12 weeks after launching