The TV Ecosystem Is Shifting

I agree with GigaOm in their recent article that Social TV is dead. The warning signs have been around for a while – it was ‘a solution without a problem’ and  it was just too complex an ecosystem (as illustrated in a previous blog).

Another trend is starting to emerge. I call it “back to the first screen.” I noticed at CES last month how conversations were shifting from “the potential of the second screen” to “how can we bring viewers back to the first screen?” In other words, we need to figure out how to bring Facebook timelines, Twitter feeds, for player stats, etc — all to the main television screen, without disrupting the TV program.

One of the CES announcements by TV market leader Samsung showed that the Back-to-the-First-Screen movement is underway. Many missed the announcement of the Multi-Link screen because it was shadowed by Samsung’s glittery new curved TV. But it was a step in that direction- albeit not the most innovative (or elegant) way to bring on-screen multitasking for TV viewers.

Amidst all the tumult and the announcements, a little startup in the CES area reserved for startups (called Eureka Park) began getting a lot of attention. The company is called SeeSpace and I know it well because I helped the founders Nam Do and Dale Herigstad get it off the ground. While working with them I became so impressed with their project that I actually joined the founding team.

At CES 2014 SeeSpace launched its product, called InAir, a small HDMI pass-through device that combines slick UI design with ACR technology to serve related Internet content overlaid on the main TV screen. Finally, a way to use the web and watch television without juggling the second screen. The press who covered the inAiR launch called it “a Minority Report” – style interface.

I spent most of my 5 days at CES in the SeeSpace booth and two things struck me:

1. The Snowball Effect: Every day the number of people who came to see the demo increased until there was actually a crowd around the booth. Word was getting around that “something cool is happening at SeeSpace” (as one TV executive put it) and attendees were telling other attendees to stop by and check it out.

2. The Wide Spectrum of Interest: The folks rushing over to see the demo ranged from corporate execs on their scouting missions to individual geeks just looking for cool stuff.  The corporate types came in waves and it became an amusing pattern. First came the advance reconnaissance troops. Then, the lieutenants (i.e. product VP’s). Next, the generals (i.e., Sr. VP’s) always accompanied by their entourages. All were thoughtfully watching the demos and pondering whether this was the answer to the question “How can we bring viewers back to the first screen?”

What was even more amazing was the fact that the SeeSpace Kickstarter campaign that launched on second day of the show blasted out of the starting gate garnering $30k in backing in 3 days. This was a clincher…people backing a HW product that is 1) still in prototype stage and 2) displaces many established ways of doing things…to me that meant that early adopters (the toughest crowd to please) see market value, and that’s a good sign that a new ecosystem is finally emerging around a new TV-watching paradigm.

2 Responses

Dear Anne-Marie,

I discovered SeeSpace and InAiR today. I am an independent non-fiction television writer, producer, director and wed media content consultant, based in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

After reviewing every single word and video available in the Kickstarter profile and SeeSpace website, I can’t stop thinking of the wonderful possibilities that InAiR could afford content creators. The first word that comes to mind is ELEGANCE … conceptual, structural, functional, technological, aesthetic, ethological, narrative … elegance. In science, elegant equations are strong equations.

I think that high-quality cognitive and emotional attentions are far more linear than some people argue them to be — the latest work by Daniel Goleman offers a brilliant insight into “Focus.” Instead of multiple screens as gates into low-intensity, shallow experiences, I think there is power in the single screen as a gate into more narratively focused yet conceptually and sensorially diverse, intense and powerful experiences.

From Kickstarter: “We would like your involvement, whether to provide feedback or to create cool apps/content that will take the InAiR augmented television experience to the next level, opening a new frontier for Television.” … I’d love to participate in that creation.

In my modest opinion, your comments about the evolving TV ecosystem are spot on.

Congrats on SeeSpace and InAir. I will endeavour to contact you, Nam Do and Dale Herigstad in the near future. I’d love to learn more about your strategy insofar as the creation of InAir-optimised content, from narrative (STORY), visual, UX/engagement and functional design perspectives.


Federico Capulino

Thanks for your support, let’s continue our conversation over email, I will follow up with you.

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Social Media: TV’s Secret Sauce

Social TV, Olympics

The 2012 Summer Olympics was the most watched TV event in history (see this article in the Huffington Post). What made this year’s Olympics so successful? Social Media.

The impact of Social Media on the Olympics shows how much television viewing has evolved in just a couple of years. We used to sit back and “watch” – the couch potato experience. Today people used a second screen to engage with athletes, broadcasters, and friends while watching the Games – the social junkie experience.

It’s simple: how can you resist flipping on the television when you see something like this come across your newsfeed? OMG! #MrBean is running on the beach in Chariots of Fire! #Olympics (By the way, the opening ceremony inspired over 9 million tweets.)

Despite complaints about NBC’s coverage across social platforms (as exhibited by the popular hashtag #NBCFail), online comments by Olympic athletes and average viewers resulted in a type of engagement around the games never seen before. One post by Michael Phelps was retweeted over 14,000 times!

Here are some illuminating stats from Bluefin Labs:
- The Olympics completely dominated the primetime social TV conversation.
- Over the 17 days of the Games between the hours of 7pm and midnight, 99% of all social TV buzz was attributed to primetime Olympics telecasts.
In total, there were more than 82M comments on Twitter and public Facebook about the Olympics from July 27 through Aug 12.

My take: Social Media is the secret sauce that is going to generate new revenue streams into the TV industry. At the same time, it will accelerate the consolidation that has already started in this market, which has too many small players. As larger players such as studios, networks, TV platform providers, device manufacturers, and the like, become more aware of the potential of Social TV to engage further with consumers and grow revenue, they will acquire the innovation from the outside that will help them do that quickly.

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Social TV: Shazam-ing the Olympics

olympics shazam

To “shazam” a song has become as much of a popular expression in the music sphere as “to google” directions on a map in the search world. I have been “shazaming” the Olympics on my TV since they started in late July, and the results have been interesting, especially as seen through the lens of the Social TV ecosystem. Through a deal Shazam signed with Olympics broadcaster NBC, U.S. viewers can use the Shazam app on their smartphone to access additional info such as extra content on athletes, updated info on event results, and medal count. They can also share on Twitter and Facebook. Below is a screen shot of what the Shazam Olympic app looks like on my iphone:

The basic job of quickly recognizing that I was watching the Olympics was done flawlessly, although I wish it had taken me directly to the event I was watching rather than the general “Tag” page showed above. The menu on that page was intuitive and well-designed, but the “Watch Live Video” option linked to the NBC app, which had to be downloaded and then did not work well. Tighter integration between Shazam and its content partner to instantly launch videos from the Shazam app would enhance the viewer experience. Also, I shazamed an ad at one point, it did take me to additional content related to the ad – but it was in Turkish! In other words, the system did not receive information about my geo location.

(Note: My comments above are based on randomly watching various Olympic events, on different days and at different times in the U.S. Pacific time zone.)

There is still room for improvement, but “you need to walk before you run” and Shazam is definitely “power-walking.” Try it: download the Shazam app on your phone (it’s available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile), point it to the TV while the Olympics are on, hit the Shazam icon and voila! Check out the results.

For those who don’t already know Shazam, it’s a London-based company that launched a music recognition service in 2002. It became the 10th most downloaded app in the iTunes store and currently has 200M users around the world (70% in the U.S.). The app can identify whatever piece of music you are listening to, in whatever context. Say you hear a song you like while having a drink in a bar, or on the car radio while cruising, or on your couch watching a TV show; pick up your smartphone, hit the Shazam icon, and the name of the song comes up with the option to buy/download it. Very cool service, I have been using it for years and I can’t remember it ever failing me, even in super-noisy environments such as crowded bars.

I met with Shazam CEO Andrew Fisher in London in late June, a few weeks before the Olympics started. We discussed his vision for pivoting the business – from solely recognizing music to also recognizing TV content. Building on its music recognition algorithms, Shazam has been developing Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology to listen to and identify what viewers are watching on TV and serve them more information about the program or the featured ads. Fisher says that a recently updated version of their product can recognize TV shows in less than one second.

ACR, which has also been developed by other companies such as Audible Magic, Flingo, IntoNow, and Civolution (see my roundup of the Social TV ecosystem for more information), is used by second screen providers (such as Miso, GetGlue, or zeebox) to identify what is being watched on TV to enable interactive services, such as voting or viewing more information.

Shazam launched its TV-oriented service last year and since then has Shazam-enabled various mass audience TV events in the U.S., such as:

• The Super Bowl 2012: During the game viewers could get up-to-the-minute stats on both teams. The halftime show was also “shazamable” – during Madonna’s performance, “Shazamers” could get a set list and a free LMFAO remix of Madonna’s latest single. The app also covered the REAL Super Bowl attraction – the ads. About a quarter of Super Bowl ads were Shazam-enabled, meaning that when viewers shazamed the ad being showed on TV, they were taken to additional second screen content. The best, in my view, was this video synched to the Pepsi commercial. Watch it, it’s funny:

• The 54th Annual Grammy Awards: Shazaming the show gave viewers additional information (on a second screen) around the night’s nominees and performers. One of the night’s most popular features was a contest for viewers to win tickets to attend next year’s awards.

My view is that Shazam’s main asset is its existing 200M-strong user base. That represents an enormous potential to reach new audiences for studios, networks, brands, handset and TV manufacturers, app platforms, wireless carriers, etc. Based on recent discussions with execs at U.S. studios and networks (an industry that has been ambivalent about embracing new digital technologies because of the inherent security risk around digital access to content and the disruption these technologies could cause to the content providers’ existing revenue model) there is a growing awareness that to capture younger audiences they will have to increasingly play with digital trail-blazers, like Shazam. Same for brands – if they want to sell products targeted at the “digitally-fluent” they will have to serve their ads where these eyeballs are. As for CE manufacturers, adding ACR to their devices would enable new revenue streams beyond the single sale of a device.

Another strength of Shazam: it is well funded (received $32M in 2011, see my earlier blog about Social TV funding) and the lead in the latest round was Kleiner Perkins (KPCB), Silicon Valley’s top VC firm, who has backed some high profile winners in the past – such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Zynga, etc. This should enable Shazam to finance further development in the U.S. market, where the window of opportunities to partner which content providers and other TV industry players is now.


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The Biggest Investors In Social TV: INFOGRAPHIC


It’s interesting to see that despite the lively ecosystem around “everything social” funding activity in Social TV — the intersection between social networks and TV viewing – is still limited. Only a handful of investors have several portfolio companies in that space.

However, that limited activity is counterbalanced by the fact that “smart money” – such as Google Ventures, Khosla, Kleiner Perkins, Intel Capital etc. – got involved early. Always a good sign.

Below is my latest roundup of the most active investors in Social TV, either by the amount they invested or the number of deals they made.

I welcome your comments.

Note: Please click on the chart to access links:

Biggest Investors in Social TV


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Facebook and Social TV: Limited Steps

In May I posted a blog entitled Facebook and Social TV – In Stealth Mode?. I felt that it was odd that Facebook, which has shown it can move fast in other domains, had yet to position itself as a key player in Social TV. Facebook has so far let Twitter be the driver of social conversation around TV shows and except for integration with second screen applications such as Get Glue and Miso, it has not really staked a claim in the growing ecosystem that is Social TV.

Oddly enough, Facebook’s leadership position in social networking has not yet translated into formulating a coherent strategy around the other two fastest growing tech segments: mobile networking and socially-enabled TV. The fact that it has signed a couple of deals with CNN and NBC recently to facilitate social conversations around the US Elections and the Summer Olympics respectively, is a sign that Facebook is conscious that there are opportunities in Social TV, but it is amazing that it has yet to fully leverage its 900M user base to derive new revenue from the large overlap between that user base and the mass TV audience.

Facebook could be the platform around which audiences engage with TV programming – thus enabling Facebook to generate significant additional advertising revenue from brands that are looking for more-trackable campaigns around TV shows than the ones currently provided by broadcasters.

Yet Facebook’s cautious steps in the Social TV space so far indicate that, as in the mobile space, Facebook may still be in the process of defining its vision.








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The Social TV Puzzle [Infographic]

The Complex Social TV Ecosystem

Back in March, I posted an infographic that illustrated the complexity of the Social TV ecosystem at that time. A mere three months later the landscape has changed: some companies have been snatched up by larger ones and new players have emerged on the scene.

Below is an updated version of our earlier graphic and my take on the current landscape of the Social TV ecosystem:


New categories and companies have appeared, others have disappeared. The market is moving on. (Note: Lost Remote does a good job of keeping track of the comings and goings of Social TV companies, it’s the most up-to-date directory I have found so far.)

This infographic is not meant to be a comprehensive list but instead my view of the most relevant and interesting players in the complex puzzle that is Social TV today.

I welcome your comments.


One Response

Hi Anne-Marie,

I’m deeply involved in a social/mobile youth sports project that will have social TV content delivery elements. I’m just starting to get my head around the social TV ecosystem in recent weeks and was lucky enough to recently discover your blog and family of info-graphics. Bravo!

Best. Mike

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Social Media Infographics Tell an Interesting Story


I ran into a couple of interesting infographics last week:


On Facebook

Facebook’s IPO at the top of the news, here is a cool graphical representation of some key Facebook stats including:

  • User Penetration by Region
  • Revenue
  • Age of Officers (and even compensation levels)

These numbers were officially disclosed as part of Facebook’s original IPO filing in early May and it’s so much more eye opening to see them displayed in graphical form. One more proof that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”


malcolm york facebook stats IPO infographic

On Social Media Marketing

This infographic is useful at the macro level; it gives a good bird’s eye view of the overall space. Although one might disagree with some of the categories and notice that some key players are missing (for example: no YouTube, Instagram, or Pinterest), this graphic shows how over-crowded the space is.

To me, this screams “consolidation.” It will be interesting to revisit this in just six months and see how many of these companies are still around.


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Facebook and Social TV – In Stealth Mode?

Facebook Kay Madati


In the past few months, I’ve posted several blogs that contain lists and graphs of the biggest and most important players in the Social TV sphere. A notable exception in all these lists has been Facebook, which has been surprisingly quiet so far. Aside from touting “frictionless sharing” on platforms such as Hulu and the desire to bring the “stickiness” of Facebook to TV watching, Facebook has remained on the sidelines.

However, in a recent article in Lost Remote, Kay Madati, head of Entertainment Strategy at Facebook says that the company has been talking with content developers and spending “a lot of time with television networks, movie studios and producers in Hollywood.” Talking is good, but this market is evolving fast.

It is odd that Facebook, which has shown that it can move fast in other domains, has yet to position itself as a key player in an ecosystem that evolved from the social networking trend started by the company itself.

What do you think?


One Response

They purchased HotPotato (overpaid) to work on this problem and nothing came out of it (though the HotPotato engineers did fix some messaging problems).

The problem with SocialTV is Americans forget is always 3am in Tibet once a day.

Yes Fb could launch “something” but just like IntoNow and the Yahoo ripples…….why would you bother.

The problems being solved by the current crop of startups are boring and short term issues…..but there are a few looking at the bigger picture from the shadows.


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How The Big Players Are Doing Social TV


Funny how the Social TV space attracts all types of investors – from movie stars (Ashton Kutcher) and sports celebrities (Marc Cuban) to Silicon Valley smart money (Kleiner Perkins) and the expected media giants.

After having reviewed VC funding in a previous post, below is my take on the most interesting Social TV activity by big media players – from TV networks and Hollywood studios to cable companies.

Twitter and Google are also included in this review. They are not media companies per se, yet their business has a big impact on the media world.


  • Developed second screen app Tunerfish
  • According to patents filings, Comcast is developing technology that would allow them to notify subscribers when their friends begin watching a particular TV show or movie, and reward customers with discounts on their cable bills when a program they recommend is viewed by another subscriber


  • Partnership with Social TV platform Miso

BSkyB (UK)


  • Will utilize to power a second screen app for The Glee Project, Season 2
  • Developed its own Social TV platform, Oxygen Connect


Time Warner

  • Investments in GetGlue and Bluefin Labs
  • Its subsidiary Turner Broadcasting recently launched Media Camp, an 12-week accelerator in San Francisco for early-stage media startups


  • Re-launching over the next year as a social TV platform


  • Recently launched a smartphone app, called Co-Star, as a companion to VH1 programming


  • Investments in ConnecTV and
  • FX: Integrating Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue into its various web offerings, especially for shows such as Archer with strong social followings


  • Working with Miso for mobile apps on iPhone and iPod touch


  • Implementing Verizon Wireless-sponsored Twitter Tracker into some live shows


  • Acquired Clicker
  • launched CBS Connect, a web site to aggregate content from Twitter and Facebook across all of CBS’ programming and connect fans and stars


  • Investment in ConnecTV


  • Partnership with Social TV analytics company and automatic content recognition (ACR) company Shazam for the April 2012 Billboard Latin Music Awards


  • Partnership with SocialGuide, to integrate a Spanish-language version of its social TV content guide


  • Acquired, which focuses on Social TV analytics
  • Partnership with Crimson Hexagon, to produce tweet data for audience analysis
  • Working with several live TV “competition” shows (like The X Factor) to create voting features that enable the audience to communicate directly with the show
  • More details on Twitter and Social TV on my recent blog: Social TV: 7 Things that Twitter is Doing Right


  • Investment in Miso



2 Responses

what do you think about the fact Facebook is not investing in social TV?

Hi, I just posted a new blog with my thoughts about Facebook in the Social TV Sphere. Thanks for writing!

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The Top 3 Recent Social TV Happenings


We’re flooded with news in the Social TV space – but most of it is noise. Separating the wheat from the chaff, here is my selection of interesting news from the week of April 30, 2012, and why:

Gary Lauder and Mark Cuban Invest in Flingo

Both angels have a track record of smart investments. Interesting validation of Flingo’s technology and business model, on the heels of recent $7M funding by VC firm August Capital investment (as reported in my blog, Who’s Funding Who?)

Oxygen Channel Launches Oxygen Connect, a New Social TV Platform

Oxygen is taking Social TV into its own hands, driving viewers to engage on the network’s own second screen app, Oxygen Connect (launching May 18), rather than competing with other programming on apps such as GetGlue and Miso.

TVplus Integrates ACR Technology into its SDK

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) is the key to delivering social experiences around TV and monetizing them because it automatically recognizes and tracks what viewers are watching. There are various flavors of ACR, developed by various companies (see my previous post on the Social TV Ecosystem). Most second screen apps now integrate some type of ACR, the one integrated by TVplus comes from Audible Magic.




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