Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My review of ConnecTV as a SecondScreen Experience

While I had good things to say on Sunday for the fledgling app during the NFL game, it was not that impressive tonight.  To start with, I sat down with my wife who was watching one of her recorded shows.  ConnecTV relies on ACR or your manual tuning to pick-up a show--but only picks up a limited list of current shows from your provider--so no DVR'd material.  Arrgh.

Then I asked the wife to indulge me in some live TV for a bit.  She took her iPad upstairs to finish her show and I tuned into the first network (CBS) I could find.  It struggled to pick up the show, so I turned up the sound rather loud and it picked it up.  Little did I know it was secretly posting to my Facebook account while this was happening, never asking for my permission or telling me it was happening.  I have to admit, this is the first "auto check-in" app I have seen that offers without a confirmation of sorts and without informing you--gonna upset a few people I am sure.  Ironically, I found out about this when a friend complained I had posted 5 or 6 different shows in a matter of a few minutes while testing the ACR...nice. [as I was about to post the blog, I tested a few more things and did notice a very small text pop-up about 15 seconds after I tuned to a channel saying I was checked-in, and then it disappear after about 1 second--not the right UX for this kind of thing--on to deleting them all from my FB.]

The content that appeared during the sync'd experience didn't "wow" me.  Maybe I am jaded by some of the prowess of the other apps, but similar to Sunday's experience, I essentially got a new factoid on the main actor about every minute (fine with the timing), with an ad below it, and that was it.  I had the Twitter feed on the right, but they have this funny thing about my friends who are commenting in general and, of course, despite being quite brash with my Facebook credentials on check-ins, I apparently have no friends in the ConnecTV world and need to re-build my network.  Arrgh again.

I switched to another show on another major network during primetime and actually saw almost no activity (the 3rd post was 6 days old).  I am assuming they have a smaller population of users right now. The rest of the experience was the same--weak synchronized content, and an advertisement.

So I switched to the Mavericks-Clippers game.  Similar to football, it actually did a decent job of showing you current stats, the last play, etc.  During the commercial, it branched out to ESPN news, the Sport Center highlights, etc.  The experience here was not on on the level of Courtside by NBA, but was pretty good.

I finally waited and tried the news and ESPN Sports Center and the Weather Channel.  Fox had an interesting UX (showing the news stories being discussed), ESPN had a similar UX, and the Weather Channel was blank (why show it?).

So, the summary?

Simple.  None.  Despite knowing my provider and zip, there is no attempt at tuning my TV or telling me what channel to change to.

Social.  I think its low at best.  Sure it has Twitter and Facebook integration and lets me "chat", but since it doesn't recognize my Facebook friends, I have no one to chat with.  Then there's the stealth check-in abuse of my FB.  Arrgghh.

Seamless.  No integration of multiple sources of content.

Stimulating.  They get some credit for the ACR synchronization, but they aren't really utilizing it.  Worse, it only works on live shows--good for the networks, bad for real consumers these days.  I would say Medium (without the ACR, I would say low).

Discovery.  None.

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