Proliferation of Second-Screen Screams Entertainment

I would be so baffled if I didn’t have any idea about the entertainment industry. The intriguing issue – which makes that much more sense when knowing how the industry works – is related to second-screen Apps and their proliferation. What strikes me as typical entertainment game-play is the fact that, while Twentieth Century Fox’s FX Network and Home Entertainment groups planted a second-screen flag in the ground with their release of a SONS OF ANARCHY App powered by Technicolor and its MediaEcho product, Fox’s FBC just announced a partnership and equity play with upstart second-app Actv8.me. This would make more practical sense from a non-entertainment standpoint if it were different companies who were launching these partnerships, but because it is the same parent company  entering both partnerships, we’ll have to chalk it up to “That’s Entertainment!” even as some corporate accountants are screaming in some room in Century City.

Certainly, both deals make sense on their own.Fox Home Ent and FX are able to leverage technology back-end that is already being used for the production of product and FBC is not only partnering with a company who can support many shows AND provide an equity deal. But it represents the growing issue as more and more players enter the fray and the consumers become more and more confused about the option and less-likely to want more and more apps on their phones. The FBC deal’s big tout is for activation with their breakout show, THE NEW GIRL. Actv8.me offers contextually relevant opportunities to play along with the show and receive rankings that relate (i.e. Roomate Level.)

Actv8.me has made quite the stir in the past few weeks with the launch of the CELEBRITY APPRENTICE App and now this partnership. Though its CEO, Brian Shuster, seems to have begun the company in 2009 and started marketing in 2011, they were still relatively unknown until the recent announcements. While trying to find out more, I could only find an announcement from November of ’11 and one of the leading reporters in the second-screen space, Chuck Parker, didn’t even include them in his latest Second-Screen Ecosystem chart dated March 2nd.

I commend Shuster and his team for not only coming out of nowhere quickly, but launching with some big catches. I also commend Fox (FBC) for stepping in and taking advantage of the opportunity to receive a piece of the company in return.  Both of those could help Actv8.me move quickly to gaining market share.  It’s a good story for those who are not first to market and a cautionary tale for everyone about the importance of not only product, but connections.

But, back to the larger issue and the proliferation of second-screen and its partnership with Entertainment… Just as the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD, the current confusion about Ultra-Violet and what that means and the different tools for different networks dilemma that is currently in place, how long can the market bear all of these different options offering different capabilities?  And how long can entertainment conglomerates have their own groups work in vacuums when developing new technologies? I’m sure something will shake out in the end to make it all sort-of OK.  I know that this is normal when new ways of doing things come about, but at first glance the disconnection surrounding connectivity really makes me want to scream.

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