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Second screen key to TV engagement

Tue, 02/01/2011 - 7:10am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Regardless of whether anyone understands what Google TV actually is, most will agree that it's an attempt to merge the Internet with your home television. That may sound like a revolutionary idea, but it's been around for almost a decade now, and there are more than a few people that are resistant to letting their big screen become a second PC monitor.

Yap.TV co-founder Shaun Cunningham is one of those people who doesn't like the idea of giving up even an inch of his "gigantic Samsung 1080p delight." 

Yap.TV"I'm very skeptical of the idea that taking your beautiful, high-res television experience back to the '50s, where you have some quadrant of your television that is distracted with and competed with by all this other content... It's just creates a weird experience," Cunningham says.

Cunningham, along with co-founders Trevor Stout and Merius Seritan, developed Yap.TV as a way for people to have a real-time, virtual discussion around their favorite TV shows. Cunningham calls the free app for the iPhone and iPad "the most deeply integrated Twitter experience in social TV."

Yap.TV built its own platform that integrates seamlessly with both Facebook and Twitter. "The reason why we did that is that TV content in and of itself is inherently social. So you really can create relationships around content," Cunningham says, adding that the company also invested heavily in developing a sophisticated engine for real-time interaction that has paid big dividends.

Yap.TV will offer its app for free. The company is embracing a monetization strategy that relies heavily upon advertising, as well as the unique value of the analytics to which it will be privy as it attracts more users. Cunningham says the breadth of viewer demographics that Yap.TV can generate could be very informative to those advertisers that might not have a large enough budget to buy time on a premium show and are looking for the closest adjacent content to target a specific audience.  

The advent of the second screen lends itself well to these kinds of engagement offerings, and there's a few out there with which Yap.TV will be competing. GetGlu, Miso and TunerFish all offer apps that facilitate engagement with television. IntoNow is a new service that acts like a Foursquare for media, allowing users to take an audio sample of what they're watching (very much like Shazam or SoundHound does with music) and "check in" with that television show.

There are numbers to prove that people are most definitely fiddling with their mobiles while watching TV. According to a survey of more than 8,000 mobile Internet users published this week from Yahoo and Nielsen, 86 percent use their smartphones while watching TV. Of that 87 percent, 56 percent are texting and 40 percent are using various social networking sites. Yap.TV is obviously well aware of these facts and hopes to capitalize on them.

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