Second screen experiences to date have largely been about two relatively unconnected activities; browsing or following social media channels on a tablet or smartphone, and viewing a program on the TV. Hooks between the two have been incidental, mostly, rather than planned, but today at the National Associations of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas, startup yap.TV is announcing an addition to its social TV platform to help encourage tighter integration between first and second screen viewing experiences.
The new yap.TV Live Pulse feature, as its being called, will allow TV content producers to create synced experiences on mobile applications that correspond directly with live TV, or even recorded content. To do this, yap.TV’s tech identifies an audio or video fingerprint associated with the aired program and delivers content at pre-defined points in the broadcast. It’s somewhat like what Shazam is doing with its own second screen efforts, but yap.TV will also be taking feedback from users on apps and feeding that back to live programming for inclusion in the broadcast, via real-time polls and live chats, for instance. Second screen interaction will be free for existing yap.TV partners who want to route their content through the yap.TV app on mobile and tablet devices, but the company will also offer paid solutions for content companies who opt to work with a standalone self-branded app.
In a press release, yap.TV CEO Trevor Stout said that the key advantages provided vs. other solutions are ease and cost. “A number of TV networks have expressed the need for a cost-effective way to provide synchronized content for their fans,” Stout wrote. “But, equally as important, networks have expressed the desire to easily manage the content in those experiences, in real-time. Our yap.TV Live Pulse feature and CMS solves both.” Still, yap.TV will have to contend with existing players in the space that also leverage recognition tech like Yahoo’s IntoNow, though yap.TV seems to be more intent on live user input being incorporated back into broadcast programming than that solution.
Broadcasters are looking for ways to do more with second screen engagement, which in theory represents a huge opportunity to not only drive repeat viewing and social buzz, but also provides additional advertising opportunities (a coupon for Kraft Dinner appearing on a device as a character eats it on screen, for instance), and ways to push additional revenue generators like merchandising tie-ins.
But, as TechCrunch guest columnist Jeremy Toeman pointed out in an article this weekend, both the ultimate aims and the exact nature of successful mechanics of social TV remain largely a mystery. Broadcasters and content providers are literally feeling out the new space, and trying to find out what comes next after viewing check-ins, and running commentary on social networks like Twitter. yap.TV’s new offering essentially provides another space in which they can experiment with additional, and potentially more beneficial forms of second screen engagement.
In a recent interview with BetaKit, Synopsi.TV CEO and founder Rastislav Turek said that second screen socialization is ripe for disruption, and GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold said in an interview today that his company, which so far has focused on social conversations around TV, will later this year “expand [its] second screen offerings” to new areas. Still, Iskold says that “whether an ongoing sync between first and second screen is something that will become a mainstream behavior remains to be seen.” At least with yap.TV and others addressing the problem, a deficiency of tech won’t be the limiting factor for its adoption.