Say goodbye to the second screen? A bold claim from Simultv.
They say the new way to stay socially connected while watching live TV or video on demand is SimulTV, the first service that claim combines live cable television, interactive video, text and voice chat, popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and online search on a single screen.
What they call the 'social TV Everywhere' experience — now in beta with general release slated for June — can be viewed on any web-enabled device with friends and family anywhere in the world. People can watch, scream, cheer, joke and otherwise bond over favorite shows and movies in real time within a virtual living room, without requiring one device for viewing and another for socializing.
According to a Nielsen survey, 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphone owners in the U.S. use their device while watching TV at least once a month, with roughly half of both groups doing the two-screen juggling act on a daily basis. This creates two problems. First, the second screen experience is difficult to take on the road because it requires broadband to deliver live content streaming. Second, it's disruptive.
"If you're using two screens, you have to take your eyes off the football game or reality show you're watching and go to your second screen when you want to complain about a penalty or celebrate with your friends when your favorite contestant wins the game, " notes Steve Turner, founder and president of SimulTV. "That means you are either watching or interacting, but not doing both."
SimulTV puts the social in TV — literally — by merging the second screen with the first. Users can add their choice of social components to any location on the TV, tablet, smartphone, computer or game console screen they're using to watch cable TV channels or movies from SimulTV's library. Interactive video, voice and text chat as well as Facebook and Twitter can be activated with a click. Users can also add Gmail, Yahoo, LinkedIn or any other app as a plug-in — and quickly assemble a 'viewing circle' to watch and socialize together by using the invitation function on the SimulTV screen.
This summer, SimulTV will offer more than 100 channels and over 5,000 video on demand titles. More than a dozen channels will be SimulTV exclusives dedicated to content such as music videos, film noir, cartoons, family films, and sports from around the globe. Social shopping with channels like The Home Shopping Network will also be included, along with top channels from Latin America, China, Japan and Europe. The service's video on demand library will initially focus on U.S. titles, with Spanish, Asian, anime and other Tier 1 international VOD content following quickly.
True Social 'TV Everywhere'
SimulTV says they deliver the first true TV Everywhere experience, thanks to proprietary technology that streams HD-quality video and also delivers picture-in-picture capabilities using less than half the usual bandwidth.
Other services tie you to your main TV to get the bandwidth you need, so you can't have a social TV experience if you're at Starbucks or the airport or waiting to pick up your child at school. In addition, other products require a set-top box, cable connection, cable box setup within a certain distance of your wireless router, downloading of content to a computer or DVR, and so on. With SimulTV, you can simply watch on any connected device that handles video — hassle-free.
SimulTV also claims they are the only service with global distribution rights to all content, making it possible to watch and interact with friends and family anywhere in the world. Not sure how they figured this one out?
After an initial free period allowing consumers to test-drive SimulTV, subscription packages will range from $5 to $20 per month. Video on demand titles will be priced at 99 cents and up.