Top 5 Second Screen Apps

In my last post I talked about the growing popularity of second screens – computers, tablets and smart phones – for watching TV.

People are using apps to twin their mobile devices with their TV to make the viewing experience more social and more interactive.

Second Screen Apps – Top 5

There are many second screen apps but the  5 most popular are:

1. Get Glue 

Available for iOS, Android and Desktop (in your browser). It offers a guide for TV shows and movies and content from streaming services like Netflix. It makes recommendations to you based on what your friends are watching. You can discuss shows with friends and earn rewards and stickers when you check in to shows. You can also stream shows through it.

2. Next Guide  

Available for iOS and Desktop (in your browser). It aims to be a digital version of TV guide and allows you to stream shows from Hulu, Netflix and iTunes. It recommends shows to you based on what your friends are watching and it reminds you when your favourite shows are on. It also acts as a remote control for your TV and DVR.

3. Viggle 

Available for iOS and Android. You check in to shows you are watching and get awarded points for check ins, watching ads, answering trivia questions or chatting with friends. Points can be redeemed for gift cards or gadgets from brands such as Starbucks, GroupOn and Barnes and Noble. It reminds you when your shows are coming on and it also offers fantasy sports games that you can play in real time while watching sporting events.

4. IntoNow

Available for iOS and Android. This is an app developed by Yahoo. When you are watching a show you tap a button and it analyzes a sound clip to determine the show and episode. You can interact with your friends watching the show on Facebook and Twitter. It will also recommend shows to you based on what shows your friends watch – what they are “Into Now”.

5. Zeebox

Available for iOS, Android and Desktop (in your browser). This app allows you to discover and share content and connect with your friends and interact live on Facebook and Twitter while you watch shows. While viewing shows you are presented with tags you can click to get more information about a show, character or a fun fact. You can even click on a tag to buy songs played on the show through iTunes.

How do Second Screen Apps work?

Digital TV Guides

Get Glue and Next Guide are the least technically sophisticated and work primarily as digital TV guides. You must tell them what you are watching so they can present you with relevant options for that show.

Automatic Content Recognition

Viggle, IntoNow and Zeebox are the most technically sophisticated. They all require you to click a button to activate a “listen feature” which listens to a sound clip of the TV program to automatically determine the show and episode you are watching. They do this using Automatic Content Recognition, also known as “fingerprinting” which matches the sound clip with an index of content.

Once the content is recognized they can synch your second screen to provide things such as: additional information, enhanced content, votes and polls, Tweets or Facebook comments about the show.

This technology has limitations since it depends on a good audio sample to identify the show. If there is a lot of noise in the room or the microphone on the device is not very good the app may not be able to identify the show being viewed.

Another concern is privacy. Since a sound clip is being submitted any audio activity in proximity, including any speech, is transmitted to the cloud for analysis. If you are having a private conversation this will be transmitted to the cloud, perhaps being delivered insecurely and probably not being treated as sensitive information.

The Future of the Second Screen Apps

The future of the Second Screen App is uncertain. With so many different apps available, the audience is very fragmented. This makes it difficult to monetise apps.

There is also a question about whether viewers want to download apps and launch them while they are watching shows. Will they offer content and functionality that is valued enough by viewers for them to “play along”?

As of now the most useful feature of these apps from a viewers perspective is their ability to help the viewer find something interesting to watch and remind them when their favourite shows are on. The proliferation of channels and services such as Netflix and Hulu create a need for an easy to use intelligent recommendation and search service.

Do you use any second screen apps? Do they offer any real value to you?

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