Will Apps Engage TV Viewers?
ABC and MTV were both first-movers on the iPad. Another breed of app is meant to be a companion to appointment TV viewing. Co-viewing apps provide information supporting what's on screen or aggregate social-media chatter, the real-time, digital sibling to water-cooler conversation about popular TV shows. "The point of the app is to restore a sense of being in an audience, in a group," said Declan Caulfield, CEO of Starling.
The iPad's real value to TV fans lies in its ability to enhance, not replace, the television watching experience. The Austin American-Statesman envisions living rooms with iPads (or other future tablet devices) lying on couches, ready to be picked up and cradled by TV viewers. There are a lot of great, free program guides for the iPad and they can do things your on-screen program guide can't. TV Guide, Yahoo and Zap2it all have apps that are easily customizable to include your favorite shows and channels. Some call up related videos, photos and other information on programs and cast members with a touch.
A new Israeli company is taking apps even further. A harbinger of that change is Israeli start-up AttracTV. Its applications called "vidgets" get viewers involved with what they're watching, and turn veg-out time into a stimulating interactive experience, says Israel 21c. Vidgets are a small screen pop-up that instantly provides viewers of say, a basketball game with statistics like their team's standings and even instant replays. A vidget can be an on-screen interface for Twitter, which parses tweets from other users watching the game. AttracTV could very well turn out to be one of those wildly successful, far-reaching Israeli start-ups, like ICQ.