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Summary:

Dish entered the second-screen game this week at CES, offering its subscribers an iOS app that combines the traditional programming grid with social discovery and remote control capabilities. It’s what a lot of startups try to do – but maybe an operator can just do it better?

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Dish announced a second-screen app at CES Sunday that combines the traditional programming grid with social discovery and remote control for the company’s set-top-boxes. The app, which will be available for iPads starting Monday, gives subscribers an option to find new shows they want to watch and schedule recordings or change the channel immediately. It covers all its bases, which should make some of its upstart competitors nervous.

Some of the app’s functionality may seem familiar: second-screen apps like Zeebox have been offering discovery through their apps for some time, and apps like Peel even offer some control capability when paired with the right hardware. But there are two things that stand out with Dish’s app, and they have a lot to do with what Dish brings to the table in the second screen space:

Dish's second-screen app makes use of data from Trendr and Thuutz.

Dish’s second-screen app makes use of data from Trendrr and Thuutz.

First, Dish doesn’t have to rely on automated content recognition to find out what’s on TV, simply because Dish already knows what you’re watching. The company is running your set-top-box, after all. So no more ugly workarounds that require your tablet to listen to your TV’s audio, only to tell you with a notable delay what’s on TV.

Secondly, Dish is making some good use of third-party providers for some of the media and social smarts used in the app. The company is relying on sports data from Thuutz to tell viewers which of the currently airing games are the most exciting ones. And it’s making extensive use of data from Trendrr to gather social sentiment across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and others, which makes it possible to show which shows are “hot” on social networks. The reason for this is obvious: Dish doesn’t have to reinvent TV discovery services, because that’s not where the money is for the company. So it can rely on third parties to make its own product better.

Which brings up an interesting question: If an operator like Dish can build a second-screen app without any of the complicated hoops that some of its start-up competitors have to jump through, then why should consumers install a third-party app? Sure, some of the apps built by startups may look hipper and come with a few more bells and whistles, but really, will consumers care?

Or will they just go for what’s good enough, and sure to work with their in-home setup?

  1. Don’t you mean Thuuz?

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  2. sharona meushar Sunday, January 6, 2013

    Thanks for this Janko. You have touched one of the biggest challenges broadcasters face – on the one hand they want to reap the value of second screen and Social TV, yet why hand over the viewer data base, and consequently the revenues, to third party apps who promote their own brand? They could develop it in-house, as Dish did, but that requires significant investments and SMEs. Or, they could turn to white label providers, which bring in the expertise and sharp tech, without taking away viewers from them. Applicaster is one company who successfully created second screen and social TV capabilities for broadcasters worldwide. I work there, and you are more than welcome to talk to us for some inside look at how we’ve been providing SaaS broadcast platform. (www.applicaster.com)

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  3. Does this app have a name?

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