Easy-to-Use Authoring Tool Cuts Costs of iTV App Development

David Kaiser, founder & CEO, Coincident

David Kaiser, founder & CEO, Coincident

May 11, 2012 – If interactive TV apps are finally at the tipping point of becoming main stream, the trigger to the long-awaited explosion may require nothing more than an authoring method that does away with laborious professional coding in favor of a click-and-drag process anybody can perform.
A reading on the merits of that conjecture is now at hand with the introduction of a new iTV authoring process by Coincident, the iTV platform provider which has made significant headway fueling Web-based applications for four leading programming networks, including Fox, CBS, MTV and one other the company can’t name. As demonstrated recently by the firm’s officials, the new Coincident Create authoring tool employs a drag-and-drop interface to give authors a wide range of options to enhance the online video playback experience.

“The technology provides users with the opportunity to develop an app for a new show in a matter of days, rather than needing a professional design and development team and several months as in the past,” says Coincident founder and CEO David Kaiser.

For example, authors can place annotations or buttons in the video player that allow viewers to jump to another point in the video or change to another video. They can create overlay or adjacent buttons that allow a viewer to display Web content in the same Web page without interrupting the video playback, or script the video playback experience, attaching events and actions to key points during video playback.

All of these capabilities are rooted in the company’s patent-pending iTV Markup Language, an XML-based tool which allows producers to mark key frames as app triggers for a given segment. In the app authoring process authors can reference any frame of any video to any other frame, Web object or mobile app.

These iTV capabilities aren’t limited to Web-based access to TV content that occur apart from the live viewing experience, as has been the case with broadcast programs like Fox’s Glee. As previously reported (March, p. 16), Coincident has now developed interfaces through which network operators can use set-top data to synchronize companion device apps with programming using the iTVML tools.

This avoids the need for more costly implementations of companion device TV apps that require use of EBIF software, watermarks or fingerprinting triggers. Instead the tablet or other companion devices learn from data generated by the set-top through the network what channel the viewer is tuned to and then communicate through the cloud to pick up the time-based frame cues that trigger the Web-based apps on the device.

One affiliation that could speed adaptation of Coincident’s ScreenSync platform involves development of applications for use on Cisco System’s VideoScape multiscreen TV Everywhere platform, which is now being deployed by Rogers Communications in Canada. At the NAB Show, Cisco demonstrated a companion app developed for use with viewing of live NBA games.

In the demo app users get prompts that can appear on the TV screen or their tablets to participate in voting for a game’s MVP or view stats and player highlights when a new player comes into the game. Users who click on an RFI prompt from the sponsor of the MVP voting or any other show segment can view a long-form video on the tablet promoting the product or follow links to see more on the Web.

Coincident has also commercialized a measurement tools by which customers can assess performance of the apps at a granular level that goes well beyond measuring clicks and impressions, notes John Gilles, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Coincident. The Coincident Measure tool tracks actions taken, sentiments expressed, items shared and the overall behavioral patterns of target audiences, allowing brands to fine tune interactive video experiences.

“We knew that interactive video created with Coincident drives audience engagement,” Gilles says. “Now we can prove it.”

Drawing on results amassed so far, including more than 40 million event-driven companion app engagements with 17 million unique viewers last year, Coincident has released some statistics that buttress claims that a low-cost approach to developing compelling apps on a ubiquitous basis could be a game changer for content providers and network operators. The company says its analysis shows that 33 percent more viewers watch complete episodes when they are interactive versus non-interactive.

Coincident also reports:
• Viewers are eight times more likely to make in-video song purchases when presented with an interactive purchase overlay vs. static purchase button;
• Viewers spend 26 percent more time on a brand’s Web page when directed there by an in-video social overlay versus. an average viewer of the same page;
• Advertisers were able to achieve a 50X increase in leads generated for a product when leveraging an interactive video campaign versus a static video campaign.