CableLabs Confab 'Winner': First Place, Second Screen

As reported here, TVplus snapped up bragging rights to “the best new product most likely to succeed” at the CableLabs Winter Conference. Here's a deeper dive into the product -- why it won and what it means. The product itself is a social and interactive TV s...

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Tvplus Screenshot 300x196As reported here, TVplus snapped up bragging rights to “the best new product most likely to succeed” at the CableLabs Winter Conference. Here's a deeper dive into the product -- why it won and what it means.

The product itself is a social and interactive TV software solution designed to work primarily on an Internet-connected "second screen," such as a PC or mobile device, TVplus CEO and Co-Founder Ajay Shah tells BTR. It uses audio recognition to identify TV content, either live or recorded, as on a DVR.

Being software, it's device-agnostic.

"It's available to anybody who just wants to download the app," Shah says. "We don't ask them to have any particular hardware to make it work. It all operates off the second-screen device, whether that be a mobile device or a computer."

The social networking aspect -- scheduled to come out in April or May -- is akin to metadata, but taken down to a micro level.

"You will see information not just about the show generically, but about the specific context of the moment of the show that you're in," Shah explains. "So you'll start to see the names of the actors on the screen. You might see information on the screen about the biographies of those actors. There'll be specific polls, and there'll be specific factoids and other information that directly relates to the 'in the moment' context of the segment you're watching."

Synchronization to specific time codes is a key element of the technology. One thing it allows is time-shifting of social interactions.

Shah explains it this way: "Let's say you happen to watch a show, and I watch it tomorrow. If we're connected through TVplus, I'll actually see your comments where you left them in the show. We essentially play back that social layer whenever you watch it. It could be potentially five years later, and I can see comments that you left when you watched it."

Firm time-synch opens another door for advertisers, which TVplus calls the Ad Synch Network. It lets advertisers "claim" their ads and create web-based interactive elements around them in a self-service model.

"Any ad on TV will essentially have a second-screen engagement to create a new form of value for advertisers," Shah says. "You can think of your TV ads as sort of your brand ads and your second-screen ads as your direct-response ads. I can see an ad on TV for something, and on second screen, I can see a geo-targeted coupon that appears that I can then instantly redeem. That's the level of interactivity that we're talking about."

Ron Hendrickson is a reporter at BTR. Contact him at ron@broadbandtechreport.com.
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