After some discussion last night over dinner, I decided to spend an hour in front of 2 popular TV shows on a major network to see how the audio sync apps worked. I ensured the conditions were the same for every app, testing each of them at least 3 times the same distance from the TV with the sound at a normal level and NO background noise. I repeated the test again on a second show. I tested them all on real-time performance on the West Coast (no DVR'd content). Here's what I found:
- Yahoo IntoNow. Recognized the show within 3-5 seconds every time. No mistakes. No delays. Check-in capability only, but quick and accurate.
- TVplus. Worked 5 of 6 times. Recognized the show within 3-5 seconds. No errors, 1 failed attempt. Synchronized content experience.
- Umami. Worked every time, recognizing the show within 3-5 seconds. No errors. Checkin capability only.
- ConnecTV. Did not work even once. For this app, I did try turning up the volume to no avail.
- Viggle. Did not recognize the first major network show (0 for 3 attempts). Did recognize the 2nd show 2 of 3 times. Took a bit longer than the other apps (3-5 seconds of listening, 3-5 seconds to match). Check-in capability only.
As an industry, if we are going to get consumers to adopt these kinds of experiences on a mainstream basis (ie crossing the chasm), the ability to recognize the show needs to be QUICK and ACCURATE. I still think audio should be a last resort and the industry should focus on synchronizing with the set top box or the "OS" of the OTT delivery (Netflux, Hulu, etc). Blu-ray is of course already easily and very accurately"sync-able".
Once we have accuracy and speed, we can drive better synchronized content use cases (vs. check-in only) for both live and recorded (or on-demand delivered) content. Then we have a real shot at convincing consumers to pick up their 2nd screen and launch their favorite app while they watch TV.