On Smart TVs, Second Screen and the search for authenticity

Written on 09 May 2013
By: Emanuela Zaccone

Both on the Smart TVs side and on second screen there has been hype during the last weeks.

Different sources declared that Google is going to announce subscription channels for YouTube and Google itself released an interactive map of US trending videos.

According to Read Write Web, innovation does not really happen in Smart TVs: second screen is the place where the magic happens. Tablets, in particular, play an interesting role in experimentation and production of companion apps (as stated by Christina Warren in this post, “When did the second Screen Become a Thing?”).

Undoubtedly, bringing the watching and interaction experience on a Smart TV device can be frustrating for users who have to renounce to a part of the screen (occupied by Social stream) or who have to change their habits and start using Internet on a device which isn’t born to do that.
My opinion – as a Smart TV owner and old second screen user – is that you don’t use Internet (or social) just to comment on what you are watching and that not all the programs need online features.

This means also that building apps or UI for this kind of device may not be the right path to innovation. Just look at Samsung’s acquisition of MOVL.


Being part of TOK.tv makes me a little biased, but I do really think that the two main words you have to think to - when talking about Social TV and Second Screen - are voice and monetization.

Regarding the second one, I believe Chuck Parker gave an interesting overview of the possible outcomes in his article “Second Screen turns the corner towards monetization with clear examples in sight”.
He identified seven possible sources of revenues: sponsorship, display ads, interactive ads, M-Commerce, Syndicated content, app revenue, video ads.

This variety gives the idea of the multiplicity of sources available when working on second screen and, on the other side, it makes us notice that none of them is THE revenue stream.
In this sense, the idea of constant innovation claimed by Read Write Web finds its way.

Monetization is essential for the development of a mature second screen ecosystem and for the building of sustainable second screen-focused companies. The entertainment side must come along with a strong business model. And a true Social experience.

Second Screen app might isolate you from your normal Twitter interaction. However, real social interaction while watching TV has no equal and second screen can just be a side companion, but not necessarily something you need to pay attention to.

At least, this is our approach. I mentioned the importance of voice above. I did it because this is the medium through which TOK.tv’s apps work for a precise reason: giving back the authentic experience of watching TV together.

Voice is the only way to avoid distractions and simulate a living room interaction. You need to have fun, as if your friends are sitting near you, with a beer in their hands.

foto (21)bis

And it works. You show us day by day, by downloading TOK Baseball and returning every day to use it for MLB games.

As our CEO Fabrizio Capobianco said in this interview from 2nd Screen Society, “If you’re watching baseball and there is a homerun, currently you can go on Facebook or Twitter, and write ‘home run!!’ or do it over a text message. We believe when there’s a home run, you want to scream that out”.

That could definitely make the difference.

Searching for the most authentic experience of watching TV can be the real bet of the next development in the second screen field.

Finally, talking about synchronization, it looks like a new front has opened: both Tomorrowish and Zeebox are working on offering synchronized social experiences, even if you are watching TV on demand or you simply live on the West coast and do not want to read spoilers. It is certainly worth to see how the landscape evolves, but it is difficult to imagine to pay attention to two different stream in a passive way.

On what basis do you judge your second screen experience? Let’s discuss it here in the blog or on our Social (you can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+).

In the meanwhile, if you want to enjoy the TOK Experience, just download TOK Baseball here.

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