First, sorry for the gap between postings—it has been a busy winter. I am hopeful that the ol’ work-life balance will tip a bit closer to center now that Spring has tentatively arrived in central New York.
Second, in the spirit of full disclosure, my blog topic is about an app that belongs to one of my agency’s clients. I don’t work on the business and we had nothing to do with the app, but there is a connection so I’m laying it out now.
The app in question is the TWCable TV app for the iPad from Time Warner Cable. This is one of those “well, duh” apps, brilliant for both its simplicity and functionality—a wireless, mobile household TV. I can’t believe every cable/subscription TV carrier doesn’t have one of these.
For those of you outside the Time Warner service area or sadly lacking an iPad (accept no substitutes, BTW), here’s the deal: click the app and you instantly have another TV. In your bedroom, in the laundry room, in the bathroom, wherever you happen to be standing within reach of your WiFi. Wicked cool.
But here’s the downside: many of Time Warner’s channels have complained, so you only get a limited subset of your channel lineup. The reasoning, as I understand it, is that the channels don’t get paid for our impromptu viewership. Where’s Seth Meyers with a “Wow, Really?” SNL segment when you need him?
The single biggest reason for jumping headlong onto this bandwagon is exactly the concern the channels are voicing—free extra eyeballs. It makes no sense. This is great for advertisers. Impressions they weren’t getting are suddenly begging for access. I’ll argue that an iPad viewer is potentially a far more captive audience than a regular TV viewer. The iPad is a much more intimate viewing experience. You don’t have it on in the background; you have it on in your lap. You’re less likely to get up and go do something else, because you’re probably already doing it. In fact, there’s a huge opportunity to make the app aware of the commercial being shown so more of the iAd functionality could be built into the experience.
If embraced by the content providers, this is a potentially giant leap toward more interactive TV. Since Day One, Apple has been touting the iPad as a new medium; here’s the perfect bridge between traditional TV and personal TV. Awesome and exciting—and perhaps doomed because distributors can’t think beyond their traditional model for making a buck. I can understand why the premium channels would have a quibble (and I’d be willing to pay a couple extra bucks a month to watch HBO on my deck while the steaks are grilling), but advertising-supported networks should be clamoring to promote this simple, brilliant extension of our TV viewing experience.
Or we can be content with getting past the latest pesky Angry Birds level while half-listening to Chopped in the background.