The second day of TVOT 2012 in San Francisco was as informative as the first. Plus I had a chance to check out the many companies that had set displays. Here are my highlights along with a video demo.
1. What Viewers Want Per ZeeBox: In his conversation with Tracy Swedlow, Anthony Rose, UK based ZeeBox co-founder and CTO, let us know that ZeeBox - a second-screen companion app - should be headed stateside in the next six months or so. (ZeeBox has about 1 million downloads in UK which "should translate into" about 6 million in U.S.) Rose said viewers want three things while watching TV: (i) more information about programming; (ii) links to related content (e.g., additional episodes); and (iii) ways to buy things on TV. Chalk up another champion for t-commerce!
2. What ZeeBox Delivers: So what does this mean for ZeeBox strategy? Per Rose, ZeeBox delivers on four fronts: (i) Finding things to watch, though he noted that if their app only accomplished this, engagement times would be very short; (ii) engagements via programming info, social and transactions; (iii) control over the TV and STB (i.e., a better remote); and (iv) revenue via digital media advertising and t-commerce. Check back this fall for my first-hand evaluation of ZeeBox as I'm curious to see if and how it truly differentiates itself from all the other second screen apps.
3. Roku and The Winning Formula: Tracy Swedlow also sat down with Anthony Wood, Roku founder and CEO for a wide-ranging discussion on iTV and video streaming. I tweeted his comment that we may very well see our first virtual MSO this year. Wood argued that traditional bundles (MSOs), OTT Bundles and New Brands will all be around for a long time but underscored that winning platforms will exhibit three characteristics: (i) connectivity (a point in favor of separate boxes and smart TVs); (ii) upgradeable software with strong security and separate billing; and (iii) content "that attracts" content (which I took to mean gaining critical mass with your content offerings).
4. Roku Goals: Per Wood, Roku strives "to be the dominant platform in Smart TVs and boxes." To that end, Roku is dedicating a team to interactive TV and focusing on: better UI, taking content from other devices and sending it to the big screen TV, providing more info on programming (e.g., IMDb), and enabling targeted, context-sensitive advertising. That's a long list but one that underscores themes I've been hearing repeatedly at TVOT.
5. ActiveVideo In the Cloud: In between sessions I caught up with ActiveVideo's Doug Casellini for a demo of their ActiveVideo Cloud TV Platform. Having seen earlier versions, I like how this iteration adds an increasing variety of features. Check it out and you'll see some of the above themes come to life.
For first day highlights read: 7 iTV & T-Commerce Highlights from TVOT Day One.
Will Keller, President, Interactive TV Commerce, is the go-to expert for t-commerce sales strategy and execution. For more iTV insights, subscribe to Inside the Screen or follow him @iTVcommerce.