Consumers are multitasking and using their phones or tablets while watching TV, and at first blush this sort of companion activity may seem like a boon to TV. But multitasking carries a number of pitfalls. According to second-screen app Zeebox, about 40% of consumers in the United States use their smartphones while watching TV, but they’re often emailing or posting on Facbeook or Twitter rather than looking up information related to the show or the ads in it.
That’s not ideal for networks or advertisers.
Zeebox is one of a handful of companion apps looking to tighten the connection between TV and mobile devices by integrating social into the second-screen app as well as e-commerce, discovery and interactivity. Such features could include viewing parties or live chats synced to a TV show. Bravo has used Zeebox for a number of shows, and Zeebox has said it’s working to sync ads across the two screens. The goal is for the viewer watching a TV show to use the app to take a poll or request a coupon, for instance, related to the ad seen on TV.
Zeebox is a service that’s caught the attention of agencies too. In an interview with Beet.TV, GroupM’s Group Innovation officer, Cary Tilds, said she’s keeping her eye on services that can connect TVs and mobile devices. That includes Zeebox as well as Shazam.
Another player making strides in this area is technology platform Watchwith, which struck a deal late last month with Fox to distribute the network’s sync-to-broadcast programming on its Fox Now app to other second-screen services, such as Shazam, ConnecTV, Viggle and NextGuide. Watchwith said NBC has used the Watchwith platform to syndicate sync-to-broadcast content for “The Voice” to its own website, its Facebook page and to Zeebox.
If second-screen services are to thrive, then it stands to reason that wider distribution via syndication will help. The online video business has proven that syndication grows a business, such as with AOL and its 5-min-driven syndication strategy.
“This points toward an industry leading recognition of the need for content owners to create, syndicate and monetize the value-added sync-to-broadcast programming for the second screen,” said Geoff Katz, VP of business development and marketing at Watchwith. “We all believe related content syndication to multiple direct-to-consumer apps is the path to scale on the second screen for TV networks, advertisers.”