Year-in-Review 2012: Second screen opens door for all kinds of IP video plays
The second screen's impact across the entire video space was pretty hard to ignore in 2012. Sometimes inaccurately called TV Everywhere, second screen TV was more about offering the same or slightly enhanced and more interactive TV fare on smaller displays such as tablets, smartphones, laptops and even PCs for a more mobile end user.
It can't fairly be called TV Everywhere because, for the most part, the majority of the content isn't available everywhere the consumer can access the Internet; it's available in the primary residence, where it is fed via a broadband home network (provided by a multichannel video programming distributor [MVPD]) across a Wi-Fi connection.
Second screen directly impacted the IPTV space this year because it brought the competition--cable operators, gaming device makers, standalone OTT video providers and even retailers--into IP-centric technology applications that, with or without the consent of the operators, are flowing into IP-connected devices and onto non-TV screens.
This not only blurred the line between the service provider's traditional linear TV service model and multiscreen but also between IP-based non-cable offerings from telcos using IPTV and cable operators. Although no one in the cable industry calls the service IPTV, it's hard to distinguish what Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Cox Communications, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Charter Communications (Nasdaq: CHTR) are doing and the offerings of AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Frontier (Nasdaq: FTR) and even Verizon (NYSE: VZ). All use IP as a transport medium to carry video over lengths of the outside network, and every choice has a broadband IP service in the residence.
The MVPDs across the space are doing it because there's an audience for as much content as they can legally push out from the TV and the set-top box and onto the second and third screens in the home. And they're doing it because competition like Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), Hulu Plus, Crackle and even HBO Go are invading their turf.
The year was rife with announcements from MSOs about new lineups being made available to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Android platforms and gaming devices like the new Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox and Sony Playstation, among the more prominent. Everyone throughout the industry, including IPTV players, also made plenty of news cutting deals with programmers like Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Univision, NBCUniversal and ESPN to make sure their content could be legally carried on multiple screens. Finally, there was also plenty of news surrounding the technology that will bring these services to consumer homes. And retransmission, always a contentious subject, became more about the rights to transmit both linear and second screen content.
Very few of the announcements specifically called out IPTV, preferring instead to talk about IP-enabled devices and services and content available for those devices. Last month, however, Comcast unwittingly broke that mold when it was revealed that a new IPTV set top box design by the MSO had been cleared by the FCC.
And, of course, IP-enabled devices from gaming units to smart TVs to tablets to smartphones to laptops all offered up new versions to grab consumers who are no longer locked into the linear TV experience. And MVPDs, across the IPTV space and beyond, lined up to play with and on these devices.
None of this movement, of course, is altruistic. There is money to be made in delivering second and third screen applications and, at least partially, that money will come from non-traditional advertising platforms that target non-traditional viewers.
Among the more prominent of these plays was one from American Express, which signed up U-verse, FiOS, Cablevision, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) and DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV) for a branded digital channel that it is using to promote its capabilities.
"The idea is that we can create new ways of engaging with our customers," Lou Paskalis, VP of global media, content development and mobile marketing at American Express, told The New York Times.
And the reality, as proven throughout the year with second and third screen applications and TV Everywhere, is that IPTV players are no longer alone in their IP-centric offerings.
Into the Future: Engaging with customers and then shifting them over to advertising to pay for that engagement was a 2012 trend that will grow even more in 2013, as MVPDs and other content providers look to monetize the interactive capabilities that come with second and third screen offerings.
- Year-in-Review 2012: Second screen opens door for all kinds of IP video plays