Developing the next-generation multi-screen experience: Analysys Mason reports from IBC 2012

(PresseBox) ( Aldwych,London, )
The delivery of content to multiple devices was one of the hot topics at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) again this year, reports Analysys Mason's Senior Analyst Cesar Bachelet.

However, the emphasis is now shifting to using those devices - notably Android and Apple tablets - as companion devices to enrich the core TV experience, rather than simply extending the availability of video content to other screens. Such multi-screen services open up a wide range of possibilities for content owners and video service providers, but at this stage it is unclear which ones will succeed.

The focus is moving towards enriching, rather than just extending, the core TV experience The concept of multi-screen services was reinvigorated following the launch of the Apple iPad in April 2010. Industry players rushed to make their video content available on tablets - an emerging category of devices that proved to be well-suited for consuming video content in a wide range of use-case scenarios. These first-generation services capitalised on tablets' multi-touch interfaces, which enabled consumers to access their electronic programme guide (EPG), schedule recordings and search for content more easily and intuitively than they could using traditional TV remotes. Early services also gave users the opportunity to either view content on the tablet itself or on the TV set, using the tablet as an advanced remote control.

A second wave of multi-screen services is now emerging in which additional screens - notably tablets - are used as companion screens to enrich the core TV experience. This approach capitalises on the growing trend for multi-tasking while watching TV. The most popular concurrent activities while watching TV among UK consumers in 2011 were using a mobile phone (76%), using a landline (66%) and browsing the Internet (54%), according to UK regulator Ofcom's latest Communications Market Report.

Tablet owners' multi-tasking habits are also highlighted in the report. Significantly, 68% of tablet owners watch TV while using their tablet, making it the most-popular concurrent activity - far ahead of the second-most common activity, listening to music (at 35%) - according to data gathered in early 2012.[1]

Automatic content recognition is emerging as a key enabler for next-generation multi-screen experiences At IBC this year, we saw examples of vendors capitalising on this trend to deliver next-generation multi-screen experiences, including the following.

France Telecom subsidiary Viaccess-Orca - a provider of security, middleware and content recommendation solutions - showcased DEEP, its Data Enrichment and Experience Platform, as a companion service. The demonstration featured a digital version of the traditional pay-TV subscriber magazine, bringing it into the twenty-first century by displaying it on a tablet to harness the resources and interactivity of the Internet. We were shown a section of the magazine relating to the film 'Midnight in Paris', which enabled viewers to find more information on various themes related to the film, such as classic cars and artists, before, during and after viewing. The service even made it possible for users to book a trip to Paris online.

Capablue, a small UK-based vendor focused on connected TV solutions, recently formed a partnership with Intrasonics, a provider of automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, to enable it to synchronise second-screen applications with live or on-demand video content. In one demonstration, an interactive app for the BBC quiz show 'Eggheads' enabled viewers to simultaneously answer quiz questions on their companion devices as contestants were doing so on the show. Another app enabled viewers to display and purchase items while they were being shown in advertisements on the TV set.

ACR technology is emerging as a key enabler for creating parallel, synchronised and contextual experiences on a companion screen, which opens up a wide range of possibilities. We now anticipate a period of experimentation in which the key industry players - vendors, content owners and video service providers - work to develop and identify the next generation of second-screen services that will help them to engage and, more importantly, monetise consumers.

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