TVNEWSCHECK FOCUS ON NEW MEDIA

ConnecTV Shifts Focus To Video Clip Sharing

ConnecTV moves from its original social media app function to video clip sharing, selling advertising and offering video clips that link to stations’ websites and YouTube channels. It may be facing competition from Shazam, a sound-recognition app that identifies music, TV shows and commercials, that wants to forge local TV station partnerships and will soon introduce multiple platforms for TV outlets to generate revenue.

When ConnecTV launched in 2011 with the financial backing of the Pearl group of leading station groups like Gannett, Hearst and Media General, the second-screen app was supposed to generate social media chatter among viewers watching TV, wresting away some Facebook and Twitter traffic.

But that service failed to meet expectations so now ConnecTV is taking a new tack, moving more deeply into video clip sharing.

“When you’re watching TV, once the app is open, it syncs to whatever you are watching,” says Stacy Jolna, chief marketing officer and cofounder of ConnecTV. “You can find the moment of the show you’re looking for, like the moment on The Bachelor when he hands the final girl a rose.”

And with one touch, he says, you can share it with friends on social media or on a blog. “We see this as being part of an emerging ecosystem of micro-entertainment platforms that are becoming increasingly connected,” he says, adding that clip sharing fits better with how viewers are using second-screen apps.

“When we invested in the company through Pearl, we felt strongly that ConnecTV was an interesting strategic fit that helped support the premise of live TV viewing,” says Adam Symson, SVP-chief digital officer at E.W. Scripps. “I feel very good today that ConnecTV’s unique live clipping platform does a nice job of making live and programmed television a shareable experience for consumers.”

ConnecTV hopes to make money by selling advertising on the app, which depends on building traffic. ConnecTV is approaching one million registered users, 24% of whom are active ones. Those active users use it an average 4.8 times a month for an average 11.4 minutes each visit.

BRAND CONNECTIONS

“The frequency with which people are coming back to the app is impressive,” says Andy Lobred, VP of digital media at Media General, who represents the Pearl stations on the ConnecTV board. “And the amount of time they’re staying engaged is very impressive. From that standpoint, I think it’s exceeding expectations.”

ConnecTV’s video clips also have links to stations’ websites and YouTube channels, Jolna says. “There are opportunities to extend the branding experience for our business partners,” he adds. “At the end of a clip, there are functionality buttons where you can find out more information about a show. It drives tune-in and engagement with the show.”

Lobred adds: “If you take a video clip from a meteorologist that is unusual, which we had happen, viewers share it on social media. That attracts users back to TV stations and their digital platforms.”

ConnecTV hopes to get some a lift this summer when it expands beyond the Apple iOS operating system to also include Android devices.

ConnecTV isn’t the only standalone TV-focused second-screen app that has hit a few bumps, according to SNL Kagan Senior Analyst John Fletcher.

“It’s a category in flux right now,” he says. “It’s really hard for a standalone service like GetGlue [now TVTag] and Miso to get more than two million or three million users. In the past couple of years, a lot of them have closed, some have been acquired and some changed their names.”

In 2011, for instance, Yahoo acquired IntoNow, an app that allowed users to chat with other people watching the same TV show. It closed shop in January.

“The unspoken story in second screen is that the big guys are Facebook, Twitter and Shazam,” Fletcher says. “Facebook has 1.3 billion active monthly users, which puts the standalone guys into perspective.”

Shazam, a sound-recognition app that identifies music, TV shows and TV commercials, has been downloaded 450 million times. Each month, 90 million people worldwide use it.

It’s now forging local TV station partnerships, with more details to come. “What we do is enable a second-screen experience so that local TV stations can profit from that experience,” says Jonathan Block-Verk, EVP of strategic partnerships at Shazam, who was previously CEO of the TV marketing association PromaxBDA.

“You can have your viewers go off and interact with platforms that have nothing to do with your brand,” Block-Verk says. “If they’re tweeting, they’re engaging with Twitter. If they’re posting on Facebook, they’re engaging with Facebook. Shazam keeps users fundamentally engaged in the first screen’s brand.”

Block-Verk says Shazam will soon introduce multiple platforms for TV outlets to generate revenue. “We’re creating a platform that will support the local television industry. Users can engage with local advertisers in a meaningful way. It can drive traffic to local businesses.”

Shazam software is best known for identifying songs and then loading up a second screen with information about them. In 2011, Shazam raised $32 million in funding to adapt its app to identify TV shows and TV commercials as easily as it identifies music.

During this year’s Super Bowl, for instance, several thousand Shazam users registered to test drive a Jaguar.

“It can say: ‘You’re watching the Ford F-150 commercial,’ ” says Block-Verk. “ ‘Click here to book a test drive. Click here to build your own car. Click here to see the specs of this vehicle. Click here for directions to your local dealer.’ Can you imagine going to your advertisers and closing the loop with the people who are watching?”


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