If you work in broadcast television, you primarily make your money from advertising. While cable operators might be a sizable part of your revenue mix, you are largely concerned with great content that will attract loyal audiences that you can sell high-value, targeted advertising against. Nothing new there.
However, DVRs, Hulu, Netflix and even P2P networks have started affecting the model as consumers are behaving in less predictable ways (although some studies claim that your behavior isn’t that unpredictable). The big marketing push for networks is still what’s referred to as “Tune In” messaging. As a viewer, you are most valuable when you sit down when you’re supposed to and watch your broadcast television all the way through. Don’t get up and go to the bathroom: watch the ads. Buy the products. Tell your friends. Rinse. Repeat.
With that in mind, it makes sense that the majority of big television events in American history are sporting events. You really can’t DVR a game and get the same value from it; it’s just not the same experience. With this in mind, it also makes sense that networks are investing in the new companion application segment. While the adoption isn’t there yet and will probably take some time, I think networks are going to continue to invest in companion apps as we move forward.
Aside from being able to “check in” at your entertainment event and tell your friends (advertising your attendance and making a word-of-mouth recommendation), companion apps encourage users to connect, preferably in real time, with other viewers to chat and comment. I think that the real value with companion applications is that, if they gain adoption, you won’t want to miss the broadcast of your favorite show because there won’t be anyone to chat with in real time if you DVR it…the experience won’t be quite the same.
Companies are working on companion apps in different ways. Here are a few of the many companion app executions out in the space right now. Check one out and let me know what you think:
IntoNow (http://www.intonow.com) is pretty novel as far as companion apps go. Billed as the “Shazam” for TV, with IntoNow users can use the audio from their TV to tell the app what they’re watching. It allows users to check in to a show, let others know what they’re watching and find out who else watched the same program. It also connects to IMDB and Netflix to allow you to add items to your queue and get more info.
Get Glue (www.getglue.com) is a network that I’ve used on the web, but have yet to use on mobile. Get Glue is working on a broad entertainment check-in play (think Foursquare for TV). Users can check in to all of their favorite entertainment entities, whether they are films, television shows or even musicians. GetGlue is currently offering rewards from networks in exchange for their check-in; which has driven 900,000 members and about 12 million check ins. The company is backed by Time Warner Investments.
Miso (www.gomiso.com) Hearst and Google Ventures are backing a play that is similar to GetGlue. Miso is another entertainment check-in application and netwrok that offers rewards in exchange for checking in, and recently landed a partnership with the Oprah Winfrey Network (“everyone’s getting check ins!!!!”)
Tunerfish (www.tunerfish.com) is essentially Comcast’s companion application version of Miso and GetGlue; check-in into shows will get users rewards. One of the interesting plays with Tunerfish is their partnership with HBO, as well as a potential integration with Fancast (I think it’s called XFINITY TV now), which would give users access to extra (exclusive or otherwise) content.
The (awesome) Oscar App conceptually really hit on the real-time affect of getting content in a curated, produced way through a companion application. The Academy and ABC partnered up to give viewers exclusive behind-the-scenes content from the Oscars this year, if you had the oscar application. While I can’t seem to find any available data on the number of check-ins, this is a great application of tune-in when it comes to companions. I’m looking forward to checking this one out next year.