Comcast Ventures Eyeing Startups in the Second Screen Engagement, Social TV Arena

written by: Richard Kastelein

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According to a recent interview in Business Insider with new head of Comcast Ventures, Amy Banse, a 20-year Comcast veteran, they plan to spend at least some of their 750 million dollar fund fueling startups in the Second Screen Engagement, Social TV Arena.This is great news for our industry!

BI: What do you think of the landscape in digital media right now? There's so much talk of bypassing traditional cable companies. Is that something you worry about, or you're trying to get ahead of?

AB: I actually think there's an opportunity for us in evolving digital media. Digital media means different things to different people. There's digital media in terms of next-generation content and premium content, and there's a lot of activity in making that a more social experience, or a three screen experience. Whether it's not its Snappy TV, or working with Shazam or Twitter or Facebook. Or startups that reflect iterations of those, like Chime and UberMedia. We look at those and we work with our networks to figure out how they partner together to accomplish what our networks are after, which is an extended engagement with their audience. If you are "30 Rock" or "Real Housewives," how can you extend that engagement past the traditional 30 minutes or 60 minutes of TV? You do it by creating second-screen experiences, you do it by allowing the conversation to continue after the show is over. That's the promise of social media for the networks. We're definitely not only interested in that, but that's a trend we think is going to make our network stronger.

That's one dimension of digital media. The other is new providers of packages of content, over the top. I'm equally interested in over the top. We're fully aware that over the top has come and is coming and will continue to come....

Five years from now, all of us, each of us, will be sourcing content from multiple digital providers. The best experience will be the experience that allows you to do that as easily as possible.

Banse revealed more of her thoughts on the evolution of second screen engagement:

BI: Do you think consumer TV habits are changing? Are people spending more time doing many things at once?

AB: We have plenty of research that you're seeing an increasing incidence of dual-screen television watching. What's interesting it's not either-or. Two years ago, there were a lot of dire predictions that with the increasing use of the Internet, people would watch television less. The opposite is true — research shows that the number of hours the TV is on in a household is increasing. What's happening is they're watching TV but they're also doing other things. They're watching TV with their laptop, smartphone, or iPhone. We see that — the venture guys and the NBC side of the house — sees that as a huge opportunity, that gives us an opportunity to extend the content and extend the engagement with our fanbase.

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