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Metadata is key to second screen success, says Sony’s Stephens

The object of the second screen is to keep viewers interested by providing information that they want, according to Spencer Stephens, CTO of Sony Pictures.

To illustrate what is possible, Stephens, speaking at the Verimatrix Multi-Network Solutions in the Real World event at IBC yesterday, cited the example – not strictly a second screen app – around Men In Black 3, where Sony had created a ‘ribbon’ below the playing movie through which users can access different pieces of information as well as background extras. The menu to the app could also enable viewers to stream or download parts of the movie and other content.

Other elements of information not specifically tied to parts of the movie are also accessible via the menu. the app also includes a search function that can enable users to access any content that is tied to metadata, including scenes from the movie itself.

To turn this type of app into a second screen experience, Spencer said that acquiring the right sort of metadata is key, as is synchronising the experience with what is happeningon the main screen. “The information at the botton of the screen needs to be relevant to what the viewer is doing so synchronisation between screens is important,” he said. This can be done through audio watermakring or fingerprinting but better would be a WiFi synch between devices, said Stephens.

Alternatively content providers could use the network to sych the experiences, said Stephens. A linear broadcast could be synched with information on the second screen , but this was difficult wiht recorded content. It is possible to deliver synchronisation through two simultaneous streams sent to the main screen and, for example, an iPad.
“A lot of what kids are doing is social networking, so providing a complete environment for them to stay and do what they are doing is important,” said Stephens.

Once work has been done for one piece of content, the basic template can be extended to others, Stephens told attendees.

“Once you develop a white label app creating a new experence for a different movie is not as difficult as you might think,” he said.

Tags: Sony