Report: Cable Operators Looking Harder at Second Screen Apps for TV

written by: Richard Kastelein

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Cable programmers and operators are dabbling in second-screen applications, which may change the way viewers use their televisions, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, game players and other connected devices, but only if they take hold in the market, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider , a subscription research service from Heavy Reading - an independent research organization offering deep analysis of emerging telecom trends to network operators, technology suppliers, and investors.

Double Vision: Are Second-Screen Apps the Future of TV? explores the prospects for second-screen apps technologies for cable operators and programmers. Included is a look at the market drivers, key challenges and cable's plans. While there are dozens of startups flooding into the companion TV apps arena, Heavy Reading has sought to identify suppliers involved in second-screen apps that are playing a role or could play a role with the cable industry and related players. The report profiles 13 companies.

"Second-screen apps hold the promise of achieving what single-screen interactive TV (ITV) has been promising for years," notes Craig Leddy, research analyst with Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider and author of the report. "But the primary technology, ACR, faces serious obstacles. Many issues that hindered one-screen ITV are now being experienced again with two-screen apps: a lack of technical standards, reliance upon proprietary software and uncertain consumer demand and monetization models."

While ACR is struggling, cable MSOs could become the savior of second-screen apps, Leddy explains. "MSO efforts to expand services to connected devices, establish IP cloud-based user interfaces and promote TV Everywhere could lead cable operators to use their infrastructure for the type of apps now being created for ACR," he says. "While some cable programmers are getting involved in second-screen apps, MSOs are watching from the sidelines. MSOs will need to be persuaded to get into the game."

Key findings of Double Vision: Are Second-Screen Apps the Future of TV? include the following:

  • Emerging automatic content recognition technologies (ACR) enable broadband-connected devices to display interactive apps that are synced to TV programming.
  • Cable networks are exploring the potential for second-screen apps with their programming to increase audience engagement.
  • MSOs are supporting connected devices but so far are not offering their own two-screen apps, due to a lack of technical standards and other issues.
  • Second-screen apps face many challenges, including usability, uncertain consumer demand and monetization models.
  • MSOs could use their infrastructure to support second-screen interactivity, but they must be convinced of the benefits.

Double Vision: Are Second-Screen Apps the Future of TV? is available as part of an annual subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900.




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