Monday, November 28, 2011

The Fight For The Second Screen.

The latest trend in internet TV has been to, sort of, ignore the TV bit as much as possible. After all, a TV show comes with lawyers and residual payments to actors, musicians and directors, as well as to the producers. It's complex and expensive. And the more popular it is, the more complex and expensive it is.

So, why not hit on another trend - do everything around the show. Many startups have targeted this space, starting with Philo, that was sold earlier this year, most recently was the UK's Zeebox, and shutting up shop today, BeeTV.

But there's a problem with this: to have premium content you still need access to the show producers or broadcasters, and to have social, well, you need Facebook. In addition you'll need a supplier of the data about what's being broadcast where and when.

The theory that the second screen is a rich commercial hunting ground is a sound one - the statistics showing that people are on another screen whilst watching television are compelling, with 80% of under 25 year olds claiming to use a mobile device to communicate with friends while watching TV with 72% using Twitter, Facebook or mobile applications to actively comment on shows as they are watching them according to a recent survey.

The trouble is that more watching is time shifted, so the second screen synced to the EPG is getting less and less relevant, especially to a generation who live their lives time shifted.

The other problem is that this is a pretty easy model to replicate, so it all depends on getting critical mass quickly, so depends on use acquisition.

It is in the interest of TV companies to operate in a fragmented market, so anything that attempts to unify is facing an uphill battle.

It's an interesting space, but will be graveyard for VCs for years to come, I suspect.