Sidecastr launches, joins competition for the second screen

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

Boston-based startup Sidecastr has recently emerged out of stealth mode, the latest second screen app to hit the social TV world. Available now for iPad, the app has a mission “no less than becoming the ‘social network for social TV,'” according to Steven Brand, the Harvard-educated founder and CEO. In the face of stiff competition, here’s a look at what Sidecastr says makes the app unique.

It’s a competitive space, but nobody’s cracked the code

The Guardian, which has championed Zeebox, is already describing Sidecastr as a potential rival to the UK-based social TV app. In the past year, many apps have attempted to be a one-stop shop for your second-screen social TV needs, but most are struggling for scale. Sidecastr has already been through the failure part and now has rebounded and positioned itself well to keep the market growing. “We started life way back in 2009 by being one of the very first social TV companies pursuing white-label app platform model with the networks, but decided early on to change course and emerge as an independent, fan-centric ‘community of communities’ app,” Brand described.

How is Sidecastr different than other second screen apps?

Here are a few different attributes that Brand described differentiate Sidecastr.

-“We obliterate the requirement of having to watch live TV in order to experience and participate in the real-time social TV comment stream.” These Tomorrowish-type features are definitely a requirement for the population of time-shifters that continue to grow.

-“We aim to be the ‘community of communities’, the social network for Social TV” and “show by show, we are building a content store of 100% fan curated social comments that lives forever.” While a community of communities is definitely the right route to go down, it seems like reddit and GetGlue have a pretty good ownership over that space – maybe one of them will offer a more robust API in the future.

-“We especially want to be viewed by the Twitter community as the ideal Twitter integrated 2nd screen app ‘purpose-built’ for watching TV.” Again, it seems GetGlue is doing this very well and that at the end of the day, Twitter is probably the ideal Twitter second screen app. On the other hand, Sidecastr does “integrate fully with Twitter’s tweet, retweet, reply model, both inbound and outbound,” according to Brand, something I haven’t seen on many other social TV apps.

“We own or control all of our own technology – including our own patent pending ACR (audio fingerprint based) system.” This part is especially great to hear since so many times a great user interface on an app is hurt by the fact that it can’t usually figure out what show a user is watching, hopefully this tech will be different.

Does Sidecastr have a chance?

Definitely. We’re still in day one and there’s no app that’s come close in the TV world to hit the mainstream exposure that Twitter and Facebook have. Sidecastr’s been around for three years and has pivoted after recognizing what wasn’t working. Their company is currently six people, four developers (split on working on the server/app) and are just beginning to go after Series A funding. The coming year is going to see second screen apps mature and learn from the past year’s mistakes.