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Experts Mull State of Second Screen

26 Feb, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Chuck Parker, chair of the 2nd Screen Society and former chief commercial officer for Technicolor, sees the second screen as having a potential hand in helping home entertainment.

“If you’re going to revitalize home entertainment, you’re going to have revitalize sellthrough,” he said, speaking Feb. 26 at the 2nd Screen Summit. “The question is whether the second screen is a part of that.”

The world of second-screen applications was worth an estimated $490 million in 2012, and could hit as much as $5.9 billion by 2017, Parker said. By looking at second-screen content as the next evolution of disc bonus features, the home entertainment industry can grab a nice chunk of that action, he said.

“There are so many tablets and so many smartphones, we’re trained, when there’s a lull in activity [on the big screen], to pull those out,” Parker said. “The opportunity, I believe, is can you find a way to weave a digital locker, UltraViolet, and a second-screen experience that encourages buying content again?”

Marc Finer, technical director of DEG: Digital Entertainment Group, said that the growth of mobile device usage hasn’t come at the expense of home entertainment, despite what some may say.

“If you look at the reality versus the misconception, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

At least for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, that’s proven true, according to Mark Andersson, senior manager of global content development. Approximately 70% of disc sales for Prometheus have been of the Blu-ray Disc variety, with Fox partly attributing the skew to the vast second-screen application that ties with the Blu-ray.

“We had a built-in, rabid fan base, and we saw second screen as an opportunity to really dig deeper into Prometheus and the ‘Alien’ universe,” he said. Fox is using the success of the Prometheus second-screen application as a template for others going forward.

Eric Anderson, VP of content and product solutions for Samsung Electronics, said second-screen applications can be beneficial for everything from live TV shows to home entertainment discs, provided they’re relevant and work no matter which second-screen device is being used.

“In the next generation out there, they touch five operating systems before they leave home,” he said. “They don’t care what the [user interface] is.”

Still, there’s blowback, especially at the pay-TV companies.

Twenty years ago, when he was working for MTV, Robert Tercek, former SVP of digital media at Sony Pictures Entertainment, found TV executives dismissive, even hostile, toward the idea of digital entertainment.

Not much has changed in 20 years, he said.

“That attitude still persists among a lot of TV companies,” he said. “They’re openly dismissive of digital technologies. Will TV go through a graceful migration to this digital world, or will it face a … collapse?”

Traditional pay-TV has managed to keep its head above water through a combination of controlling content, litigation and regulation, partially staving off the onslaught of over-the-top (OTT) services. But both OTT and pay-TV services have to worry about something else more troubling, Tercek said.

“From the consumer opinion, the easiest way to get everything they want is [piracy],” he said, pointing to a yet-to-be-released set-top box in Europe that is certified by content-sharing company BitTorrent. All content aggregators need to “adapt some different attitudes,” he said.

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