Who really owns the second screen?

Few of us just watch TV anymore. Some 39 percent of us use a second screen while plopped in front of the boob tube at least once a day, according to Nielsen. Among tablet owners, 85 percent use the device while watching TV at least once a month, while 41 percent use it that way at least once a day.

Much of the time, what we’re doing on that second screen is unrelated to what we’re ostensibly watching, like checking work emails, updating our Facebook status, or playing Angry Birds. But enough of the time, what’s on the second screen is sufficiently related to the first to make it potentially valuable to someone within the overall TV ecosystem. Who exactly that is — or should be — however, is becoming a source of tension within the business.

Speaking at the Variety Entertainment Apps conference in Los Angeles this week, Fox Broadcasting VP of platforms and innovation Hardie Tankersley noted that when it comes to developing second screen apps for particular TV series, there is often a lot of fingers trying to get into the pie. “There’s the studio, the networks, the sponsors. There are a lot of different people with a piece of that show,” he said. “There’s still a lot of murkiness over who owns the rights to do what.”

Tankersley said Fox is moving away from creating companion apps for individual shows, where the lines of authority can get tangled, in favor of a more generic, Fox-branded network app “because it’s a lot cleaner in terms of who can do what.”

Into that murky mix also come third-party platforms and developers seeking alternately to partner with the networks on creating second-screen apps for particular shows or to build their own ecosystems around those shows.

In announcing his company’s $75 million acquisition of GetGlue, for instance, Viggle CEO Robert Sillerman said, “With this deal, we are combining very experienced and creative product, engineering and management teams that will continue to build great user experiences and provide industry leading platforms for consumers, networks and advertisers.”

Just how good a deal it is for networks, however, is not as clear as Sillerman makes it sound.

“I always get uncomfortable when startups come in to pitch us [on second screen apps] because there are really only two sources of revenue they can tap,” Tankersley said at the Entertainment Apps conference. “They either want to do something that eats into our TV advertising, which I don’t like, or they say they want to partner with us to drive tune-in, which comes out of our marketing budget.”

Appearing on the same panel as Tankersley, Shazam’s executive VP of marketing David Jones defended third-party platforms’ value to the networks. “We can drive five to 18 times the traffic to a network’s own social media content,” Jones said. “We aggregate all the content that exists out there around a show, that isn’t created by the network, and make it easy to find and available. That helps drive the whole engagement cycle around the show. ”

Maybe so, but engagement is not the real prize. If social TV ends up being simply about engagement than Twitter and SMS are going to the only real winners. For dedicated TV companion apps to have a future, whether developed by the networks, the rights owners, or third parties, they will need a more easily convertible currency than engagement. Something like e-commerce, for instance, or interactive advertising.

Most of the jousting going on today over who is able to do what on the second screen is about gaining inside position to claim that ultimately prize, should it ever materialize. For now, though, engagement is all there really is to fight over. The real fight is yet to come.




ClipSync wants to take videos viral, moment by moment

ClipSync Moments gives viewers the ability to share videos with friends on social networks. But instead of sharing a link to the entire video and having their friends search for the part it refers to, ClipSync attaches comments to a specific moment in time.

Ooyala gets social, grabs Motorola Mobility money

Online video distribution startup Ooyala has received a strategic investment from hardware maker Motorola Mobility. The announcement comes just a day after Ooyala launched new social features, and while Motorola is in the midst of being acquired by Google in a deal worth $12.5 billion.

Clicker Gets Social, Goes Mobile

Clicker is bringing new aspects to its video search and discovery engine, with the launch of new social tools that will allow its users to check in and rate their favorite programs, make recommendations to other users and find out what their friends are watching.

YouTube Kills Real-time Sharing Feature

YouTube (s GOOG) has done away with a feature designed to make it easier for users to share what they were watching with their friends in real time. After less than a year of testing, the Realtime Toolbar, which was rolled out to a limited number of users, has been retired, according to a post in the YouTube User forums.

The Realtime Toolbar, which was one of several experimental features that YouTube announced last April, allowed users to see what their friends were viewing, rating and commenting on. It also enabled users to invite others to watch videos along with them. But the toolbar was not very widely released, as users had to be invited to test it out.

Instead of continuing to support the experimental feature, YouTube is instead throwing its weight behind other projects that could help increase engagement and viewing among its users, like Auto-Share. The company issued the following statement regarding the shutdown: “We routinely test early products in TestTube to give the YouTube community a chance to try them out before retiring them, or rolling them out more broadly. Some social features, like Auto-Share, gain a lot of interest and adoption within the YouTube community while others do not.”

Related content on GigaOM Pro:

Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)

Kyte Updates Its Video Management Platform

Kyte rolled out the latest update to its white-label video management platform today, in an effort to provide its customers with easier-to-use workflow, scheduling, moderation and player management. The launch of Kyte Console 2.0, which went live this morning, marks a “complete reworking” of the platform, according to Kyte COO Gannon Hall, one that came after a year of examining how customers were using its dashboard and determining ways it could be made more intuitive.

The biggest changes that the console makes are around the user experience, reducing the number of steps it takes for customers to accomplish basic tasks and allowing them to customize the editorial workflow to streamline processes. The new console also provides more advanced scheduling of shows and other videos on the platform and the ability to create manual or smart playlists.

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Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club Goes Social

Cable programmer Oxygen is adding a social viewing experience for fans of its Bad Girls Club reality TV show, with the launch of OxygenLive, a new web site where viewers can socialize, take polls, and chat with other fans.

OxygenLive will enable viewers to participate in a real-time chat with Oxygen editors, guests from gossip site Evil Beet Gossip, and cast members from the show. The site will also incorporate Facebook, Twitter, and live polling during the airing of Oxygen programming.

The site is not live yet but will go up at www.oxygenlive.com on Dec. 1 to coincide with the season premiere of Bad Girls Club at 10 p.m. ET, and live chats will occur each week throughout the season of the reality TV show.

The introduction of Oxygen’s social, “two-screen experience” comes as more and more TV programmers are taking advantage of the social web to bring attention to their programming. CNN’s integration with Facebook for the presidential inauguration proved wildly successful and has led to growing interest in content companies integrating live events with social networks. That event has led to companies like Fox (s NWS) experimenting with Twitter as part of its “Tweet-Peat TV” and many other programmers rolling out social tie-ins to their programming.

A number of challenges are still facing social TV. Nevertheless, we’re strong believers that video will continue to be social. To learn more about how social television is progressing, check out our report “The State of Social TV” at our subscription research service, GigaOM Pro.

Gleedo Wants to Socialize the Web (But You Need a Download First)

Gleedo is a new service that is looking to literally add a layer of socialization to your web-browsing, online video-watching, document-sharing experience. But will the company’s download approach stymie its success?
Basically, Gleedo is a downloadable application (Windows only) that acts as an interactive layer that hovers above your web activity. Connect with other Gleedo users and you can start “livesharing,” as the company calls it. Text or voice chat with friends about YouTube (s GOOG) videos, shows on Hulu, pictures, documents or whatever else strikes your fancy.

The problem, though, is that people are typically averse to downloads, especially as more functionality moves to the browser (see: Joost). And in order for Gleedo to really work, it will need lots of people to download the app.
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