Local TV gets its second screen with ConnecTV launch in 40 markets

By Cory Bergman Comment

Calling itself the “biggest social TV network nationwide,” the second-screen app ConnecTV officially rolled out in the first 40 local TV markets. While ConnecTV has been available for download since February (see our earlier review), today’s launch marks the start of promotional efforts at participating TV stations — 85 to start, spanning nearly every affiliation.

Similar to a handful of second-screen apps, ConnecTV offers companion content and community in sync with the broadcast. But unlike the rest of the field, ConnecTV is taking a local approach, partnering with nine station groups in an effort to grow scale market by market — with plans to launch in 215 TV stations in all. It’s also tackling as much TV programming as it can, providing companion experiences across national, syndicated and local shows, including sporting events and local newscasts.

“Local engagement is at the heart of all social media, from Twitter to Facebook to Groupon,” said ConnecTV Co-Founder Ian Aaron. “ConnecTV is the only social TV network with a true investment in the local viewing experience and an unparalleled strategic partnership with the leading media companies in America.”

Those partnerships involve promoting the ConnecTV app on TV and online, adding up to much-needed exposure in an increasingly competitive space. In a departure for local TV as an industry, stations will be promoting ConnecTV, not a co-branded version of the app. Stations will also be able to extend local advertisers into the app. The idea is to help ConnecTV scale a second-screen platform that doesn’t squeeze local TV — and its advertisers — out of the picture.

“Television programming is driving the social media conversation, but those conversations continue to be fragmented across myriad platforms and provide little local context,” said Alan Frank, President and CEO of Post-Newsweek Stations. “We see ConnecTV as a way for our communities to come together in a single, standardized digital extension of our broadcast platforms, and engage in dialogue around the information and entertainment most relevant to them.”

In other words, local partners don’t want the same thing to happen on the second screen that’s increasingly happening on the first. And there’s a strong argument that viewers don’t want to fumble around with a half-dozen second-screen apps, but engage with one that works across the full palette of TV. “We operate the way you watch TV,” said ConnecTV’s Aaron in an interview with Lost Remote in February. “No matter what channel you tune to, you’re going to have an experience.”

This will be a fascinating story to watch, and we’ll keep you updated.