Executives from a number of major programmers and studios
stressed the growing importance of second-screen applications and experiences
for their multiplatform strategies during various Digital Hollywood sessions at
"I would say the biggest shift in the last two years is that
the [second-screen] experience used to be layered on to the program as an aftereffect,"
said David Anderson, senior VP and head of digital at Shine America. "But now
when we go into a network pitching a show, we go in there with components that
might be a creative fit...We view them as part of show."
Renee Plato, senior VP of digital distribution at Univision,
agreed, noting that they have to offer a "360 degree experience."
"There are some viewers who want a laidback experience and then
there are others who want to be very interactive," she said. "They're using
Facebook and tweeting while watching. But I don't think you can do just one or
the other....The overall experience needs to be a 360 degree experience that
plugs into consumer behavior."
"We are working hard to provide a connected experience,"
added Balaji Gopinath, VP of emerging technology at Turner Broadcasting, during
a separate Digital Hollywood panel. "We are spending a lot of time thinking
about how we can monetize this. How can we get consumers engaged and how does
content need to change across platforms?"
These efforts have even moved into the DVD and Blu-ray
world. Jim Underwood, executive VP of worldwide digital and commercial strategy
at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said that they had released some Blu-rays
with second-screen experiences for the tablet.
But the applications work better with some types of content
than others and require different approaches depending on the show, said John
Penney, executive VP of strategy and business development, Starz Entertainment.
Funding the development of those applications is still
difficult, Plato and others noted.
"The big challenge for us is how do we pay for it?" said
Beth Clearfield, senior VP of digital and media and business development at BBC
Finding a way to fund those second-screen applications is
particularly important, she said, because they provide a great way to engage
viewers while the show is on the air and are also important for building and
maintaining interest when the show is off air.
"We work with advertisers...but we don't always know when or
how we can make money," she added.
The growing importance of these applications makes it
essential to overcome the business problem, Anderson said, adding that they
expected "the network and advertising sponsors" to be involved.
"It is not question of who will pay for it. It is something
we have to do because it is so necessary to attract audiences," he said.
Pam Schechter, VP of business affairs, digital cable
entertainment at NBCUniversal, said that they would increasingly be working
with Zeebox, a social TV company that provides additional content and ads
synchronized with programs users are watching. Last year, NBCU and Comcast were
among several companies that took a stake in Zeebox.
"We are interested in creating second-screen content by
working with the creators and planning" right from the beginning, she said.
"Synchronization will be a big play for NBCU."
Early on, a number of companies had developed second-screen
apps for individual shows, but a number of executives said that they expected
those efforts to be increasingly done on a network level.
Univision's Plato said that they are now offering synchronized
content "not on a show-by-show basis but for the whole network," as part of
their UVideos platform. "It is really part of our DNA now."
"I don't think that individual shows have the ability to
carry second-screen [efforts]," Shine America's Anderson said. "The numbers
just aren't there. I think you will see a more robust network approach
developing this year."
Anderson and others also stressed that the applications had
to be compelling. "You can't just throw up some trivia and some biographical
information and expect viewers to find that compelling," he said.
The Univision UVideos platform was designed for
authenticated TV Everywhere delivery of content.
Other executives said that these applications are
increasingly being built into the cable, satellite and telco multichannel
During CES AT&T, Dish and Cox all announced new second-screen
Sachin Sathaye, senior marketing manager, service provider
video at Cisco, said that they were working with Cox and other operators on
improved second screen applications that make it easier to search, access and
interact with content. "Creating experiences that are intuitive, synchronized
and social" are increasingly important to the TV everywhere strategies of
operators, he said.
Robert Leighton, senior VP of programming, at Liberty
Global Inc., said that these TV Everywhere efforts were extremely important
for operators as a subscriber retention tool. But the company was surprised to
find that about 90% of the usage was for live TV, not on-demand content, he
He also stressed that operators have to be careful about bringing
in over-the-top content. "It is a tricky balance," he noted, adding later that
"the last thing we want to do is be in the position of just selling bandwidth."
These second-screen applications would also become more
important at mobile data traffic grows. Cisco, for example, projects that by
2016, 71% of the global mobile data traffic will be video and that this traffic
will explode as tablets become more prevalent. "By 2016, tablets will generate
two times the data that global handsets do," Sathaye said.