The nascent market for second screen TV apps on mobile devices - whether from pay-TV operators, content providers, CE/SmartTV manufacturers or social media/discovery startups - is poised to accelerate due to a deal announced yesterday between Tribune Media Services (TMS) and Digitalsmiths. That's because TMS, which is the largest provider of metadata about TV shows and movies will now use Digitalsmiths' Seamless Discovery platform to offer 20 different APIs allowing app developers far easier access to the data than ever before.
As TMS's Shannon Oborne explained to me yesterday, TMS has made available its entertainment metadata suite for about 5 years, but since it has relied on traditional FTP delivery to customers, rather than more sophisticated APIs, the metatdata's usefulness has been restricted. The comprehensive metadata is drawn from over 20K linear sources plus numerous OTT sources and is extremely valuable for any developer seeking to build robust second screen (e.g. tablet, smartphone) apps. By marrying the TMS data to Digitalsmiths' Seamless Discovery platform, it will be dramatically easier for developers to grab just the slices of data (i.e. Brad Pitt's roles, or all action movies set in the future, etc.) required to power their apps.
Second screen apps have become hugely strategic in the pay-TV industry as operators such as Comcast (with its Xfinity app), Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and others have recognized their value-add to subscribers and raced to release them. There are also myriad startup social TV/discovery players like Miso, GetGlue and others who would benefit from these APIs. Then there are CE/SmartTV manufacturers like Samsung, LG and others who are looking to enhance their experiences. Last but not least are all the content providers deploying apps to build loyalty and viewership.
Ben Weinberger, Digitalsmiths CEO added that while customers of its Seamless Discovery platform have up until now been able to provide TMS metadata which Digitalsmiths would have to ingest and then revert to customers, the API model provides a much smoother work flow which should in turn fuel demand. Ben noted that Digitalsmiths also makes available other data feeds which customers can mash up to deliver the optimal experience to their users. As part of the deal TMS will also become a marketing partner for the Seamless Discovery platform.
The TMS-Digitalsmiths partnership underscores the idea that just as with the Internet, in the mobile/app era, the underlying data that drives user experiences is crucial. As we've previously seen in industries like travel, real estate, financial services and others, the able to expose data to entertainment app developers is going to yield highly immersive user experiences.