Published on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 09:30
The social TV market today is still alive and thriving but the pack has definitely thinned. Recently closures and asset sales include BeeTV, Miso, and Philo. And now, Numote, will soon be added to this list. As one of the early players in Social TV, Numote has been one of those businesses always in search of a business model. Initially, we thought of Numote as serving the TV watching community through a social, TV guide app with a hardware component to switch over the channel on your TV (because smartphones don't have IR ports). Next, we looked at building apps for smart TVs and integrating with hardware by partnering with manufacturers. Numote had some moderate successes with this strategy, winning Samsung’s 2011 Free the TV Challenge Popular Choice award and creating prototypes for some major STB vendors. But the hardware guys moved too slow, so we shifted to our final strategy of partnering with content providers to offer interactive, companion app solutions for their audiences. Companion apps are downloaded on your smartphone to interact with or enhance TV content before, during, and after a TV program. This smartphone content is timed to synchronize with TV programs and can include things like tweets, live polls, videos and tidbits about characters. With Numote Live, we built a real-time, scalable companion app platform to make creating companion apps easy for content providers. Moreover, it includes a user friendly CMS for content producers, offered other components like real-time analytics, and could be easily integrated with TV networks legacy systems. In the end, however, we learned good products are not enough to win with TV networks and are putting the Numote Live assets up for sale
Working with TV networks was a great learning experience. Had we known the complexity of how TV networks are operated and controlled, the time and cost involved with integrating with legacy systems, and the number of decision makers we'd have to get approved by, we might have stuck with working with the hardware guys. We had the honor of submitting 20 page RFP reports with detailed designs and then having the projects canceled, dealt with TV data feeds riddled with errors as if they were entered by underpaid interns (sometimes they were), and put out numerous fires when legacy software broke during the airing of an important TV program. This was all exciting for a young start-up and more glamorous to us than it may seems as we were working with real TV brands.
We mistook this initial success as a signal that we should expand our offering to support other brands and proceeded to build an scalable, enterprise platform capable of handling multiple brands each with several TV shows. The key factor we failed to realize was that the brands weren't the ultimate decision makers for the technologies they used. And just as the brands were able to show some promise with their companion apps, the controlling TV network swooped in, forcing its own enterprise companion app system on to the brands.
Today, we have a full stack built for media companies including cross platform SDKs, easy to use content management system, and analytics that is in search of a home. The Numote Live platform was built from the experience working with TV brands over the past few year. It contains insights from trying to understanding their problems and offers UI that streamline the social content creation process. To unlock the full potential of social TV, app developers need to handle torrential amounts real-time data. Consequently, Numote Live is real-time platform built with scalability in mind and scale up and out on top of a NOSQL database that can handle high database usage that prime time TV audiences can generate. We are putting all these assets up for sale this week and are hoping to find a good home for them. We have put up a demo site for interested MSO and content providers to take a look at the platform and its capabilities (e-mail
for access).What's going to happen with Social TV?
Working in the space over the past few years, I can share some insights on the state of social TV today and where it's headed in the future.
Twitter remains dominant with Social TV and has secured its position with its acquisition of Bluefin Labs, a Social TV analytics company, in February Twitter's Amplify program has also started to show some success. Shaw and Bell, Candian broadcasters, have recently signed partnerships to sell ads with Twitter as part of the Amplify program. This type of dual screen campaign had previously been used by Fox and ESPN in the US.
Leaders in the social TV space, GetGlue and Viggle, are still very active. Getglue and Viggle had announced a merger in late 2012 and promptly canceled the agreement in early 2013. GetGlue walked away with $500,000 break-up check which had been a condition of the deal. Since then, Viggle has been heavily promoting its companion app challenge for creating apps based on the Viggle API and GetGlue continues to improve its offering by adding new badges including badges for the 2013 Oscars and updating its Android app.
What's next with Social TV? We see social TV so far has worked well with augmenting traditional TV ads and rewarding TV viewers behaviors but it remains to be seen how social TV will fit into production and consumption of TV content. “Storytelling Through Fan Involvement” and “The Convergence of TV and The Internet” were a reoccurring themes at SXSW this year and we are seeing digital extensions of shows become more and more popular with supplementary content for viewers to consume 24/7 while their favorite shows aren't airing. Look to see more of that in the coming years with experimentation on the way stories are told. What's clear is that the 80 year old broadcast medium will continue to change in ways we may not be able to anticipate.