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Augmenting the Viewing Experience with Companion Screens

Steve McCaffery, vice president of Motorola Mobility in EMEA shares his views on converged media experiences:

“A 30 something year old man in IKEA and his partner was busy filling a shopping cart with assorted trinkets and nick naks for the home. He had his smartphone strapped into the child seat and was watching a live football game.

Leaving aside what that scenario does or does not say about the male interest in home furnishings, it does illustrate perfectly the reality of multi-screen broadcasting.

Long talked about, we are now in an era of true convergence of content and devices. This gentleman (presumably) had a mobile subscription for premium content and was able to watch content normally accessible only in the home, on a secondary device and in a location of his choosing.

At Motorola, we’re calling this new era one of Converged Media Experiences. People are accessing content on a range of devices at a time and location of their choosing. For service providers eager to capitalize on the opportunities this new era holds, the question has moved on from what will this new era look like to how can we take advantage of it.

Just as the attitudes of service providers have moved on so have the technological questions. Everyone is in broad agreement that to deliver to a multi-screen, location independent converged future, cloud-based management software has to be in place (such as Motorola’s Medios suite). Now, the debate is around what to do with that content. How should it be packaged and delivered? What format and what devices? What to charge and when to charge it.

Perhaps controversially, there’s too much demand for services overlaid on the television. Our recent Media Engagement Barometer research of more than 9,000 consumers worldwide shows that the main television set in the home is still the primary access device for video content, we don’t want to ‘clutter’ that experience.
The focus should be on augmenting the television experience using secondary and companion devices (such as smartphones and tablets). This could be offering access to premium content while doing the shopping but equally it could be allowing users to access additional content, chat with friends watching the same program or browse the next program choices without altering or changing what’s on the primary television set.

Aside from the technology, the issues of copyright around streaming content to devices other than the television set should also become an area of focus. Content owners are waking up to the fact that their intellectual property can be viewed on a broad range of devices and in many more situations than the home. Licensing deals will now be negotiated with multi-screen viewing in mind, and while the natural instinct is to assume rights holders will be looking for more money, it also presents an opportunity to deliver imaginative rights packages bespoke to certain devices and formats (Sky Sports offer such as service for the iPhone. Premium content available at a competitive price but it can only be viewed on the handset and not ported or streamed to other devices).

Overall, delivering the multi-screen vision is now about the mechanics rather than the design. The hardware and software is in place, consumer demand is growing – rapidly – and service providers and content owners are fully bought into the opportunities afforded by converged media experiences.

What’s needed are the innovative services that take advantage of new device capabilities while delivering value back into the industry.”

One Response

  1. [...] the main TV and a “companion” device. In fact, you might recall my colleage Steve McCaffrey shared his thoughts on companion screens earlier this [...]

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