A new companion app aimed at enhancing the viewing experience has entered the mobile marketplace, but will Zeebox succeed in an arena where many execs are still making their minds up about the benefits of second screen? 1.5 million downloads and 300,000 – 400,000 unique views per month, along with an eight-digit investment from BskyB in the UK says it will.
The 91 million smartphone users in the US represent a significant market for any company looking at sponsoring mobile TV as a viable way to venture onto the consumer landscape. However until now, broadcasters, production companies and mobile advertising agencies have kept mobile TV at arm’s length, even though it’s long-been known that viewers are willing to engage with TV shows using their device and most use their phone while watching their favorite shows. This must mean mobile TV is the next logical step, right?
Zeebox is due for release in the US imminently and there is already a ‘significant’ US partnership in the bag, as well as an upgrade featuring friends’ viewing habits and programme reminders that will put Zeebox right up there with Intonow, Yahoo’s TV app.
Industry experts feel the launch of Zeebox will speed up advancement of mobile TV. It’s a well-known fact that viewers enjoy the interaction that companion apps can offer in the shape of voting, real-time discussions and game show participation. Zeebox has won a lot of fans with its neat package of social discussion, channel-changing EPG, e‑commerce links and a HTML framework, which allows broadcasters to create in-app viewer engagement modules. However these are just accompaniments to the main dish, which is still content developed purely for the linear screen.
TV Chip Market Set to Increase
Siano Mobile Silicon Ltd announced their intention to move into the US at the end of last year. Israeli outfit Siano make TV chips for mobile devices and while the global market stood at around 99 million units when the announcement was made, it’s predicted it will expand rapidly – to just under 160 million by 2015. This clearly means they see potential in mobile TV.
Those in the know suggest that where Zeebox leads, mobile TV will surely follow (good news for Siano) as the next logical step when users become more familiar with accessing TV content using their device.
”It improves (viewers’) enjoyment of the TV-viewing experience,” stated Neil Mortensen, research director of the UK TV umbrella and traditional-advertising champion Thinkbox. “A lot of people now say they won’t view the show unless they can interact with it. The fact you are multi-screen and connected is driving more people to watch (TV).”
The Existing Offer…
Just over three years ago NBC entered the fray with their mobile site that allows users to access full episodes of popular shows on their smartphones, while the BBC’s iPlayer has been available for some time and the Corporation has just announced that a revised Android version of the app will feature the BBC’s own Media Player technology.
However this is not true ‘mobile’ TV, this is watching streamed content. Using your smartphone as a TV, as a signal receiver, can be done, but it will cost money and it’s predicted this will come from mobile advertising spend.
Julia Otterburn Hall digital director of UK independent TV producer Shed Media said she believes additional production costs and ownership issues are two potential problems with second-screen advancement but that more resources and more lawyers could get things on track. If mobile phone advertisers and existing TV advertisers can be convinced to truly embrace digital technology and that second-screen has a future, their money could fund a televisual revolution.