Second screens could force PSBs down the EPG

March 5, 2014 10.45 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Sky EPGPublic broadcasters face losing their cherished positions at the top of electronic programme guides as second screen guides are adopted by the public.

Assessing the Impact of the Second Screen, produced by Technologica for regulator Ofcom says interviewees considered that second screen EPGs are preferable, citing such factors as the better user interface, the possibilities for personalisation, the integration of social media, and the potential for previewing content.

The report says that regular methods of display through grids and lists will be supplemented or replaced by richer alternatives. “The experience so far is that second screen apps do not adhere to just one principle vis-à-vis prominence. Thus an individual app typically allows users the opportunity to display content according to popularity, ‘buzz’, tweets per minute, friends’ activity and recommendations as well as linear position on a grid-based guide.”

As a consequences regulation on EPG positions could be more difficult to enforce than is the case on first screens.

Technologica analysis found the technologies involved in second screens are predominantly closed. Virgin, Sky and YouView employ proprietary platform APIs, TVs and set-top boxes employ proprietary APIs and watermarking technologies are also proprietary. However, it does not believe this is working against the interest if the consumer.

The level of personal downloads of platform apps and manufacturer apps can reach up to 25% of the applicable first screen receivers. The EPG apps can reach around 2 million downloads.

However, even the most popular broadcaster apps are downloaded by just 5% of viewers.