The Miami Heat were down 10 points to the San Antonio Spurs heading into the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, and, down three games to two in the series, the Heat’s season was on the line.
LeBron James had been in a lull up to that point in the game, but then he lost his headband on a dunk with just under nine minutes left to play. Something clicked, and in what is now known as “The Headband Game,” James went on to lead his team to an overtime victory, and then, two days later, to a second straight NBA title.
Kai Bond was watching the game – yet he wasn’t. As James’s headband went flying off, Bond was looking down at his phone. He saw the immediate reaction on Twitter, but he had missed the most pivotal moment of the game.
Just as it had for James, something clicked for Bond.
“That was my ah-ha moment,” Bond told Lost Remote. “Why am I looking down at this feed when I have a giant screen in front of m that’s 50 inches that can easily support getting this content.”
And so began Pixie, Bond’s smart TV app company which is being developed through Samsung’s Accelerator in New York City. Bond, the founder and CEO, gave Lost Remote a demo of the first iteration of Pixie – now available via Samsung’s smart TV app store – and it is clear that as Samsung owners begin installing and using the app, they too will wonder why they were ever looking down.
Pixie provides a number of content cards, including Reuters, TMZ, ESPN, MLB, NBA, Facebook, Instagram, and custom Finance and Weather apps, that overlay relevant information around the program users are watching. The idea is to provide added value without obstructing. For example, viewers who choose to watch ‘The Godfather’ can easily pull up the Rotten Tomatoes score and read their favorite reviewer’s thoughts on the movie. The score is displayed at the bottom of the screen, while the full review is displayed on the right.
Cards are also being developed around special events, including the World Cup. During the demo, Bond shot over to ESPN during the Russia-South Korea game and was able to pull up a graphic of rich game statistics that update in real-time throughout the match. When our conversation turned to monetization, Bond hinted that custom event cards developed by networks could be one route.
While three out of every five U.S. households own connected TVs, and augmented app usage is sure to increase, Bond does not see Pixie – or other such apps – as a complete replacement for second screens: “I think there’s always a place for second screen,” Bond said. “Second screen will always be super important and critical for long-form content, for video that you want to get down, for composing, for configuring. But for consumption? You want it up here.
For content that is best viewed on second-screen devices, such as videos or longer-form articles, Pixie provides a send to phone option that transmits links to any device. Additionally, users can also control Pixie by going to a URL on their smartphones. Pixie isn’t thinking about offering a phone app, because that would take away from a user’s ability to access its features from any device.
Bond also anticipates that there will be a “new paradigm for channel surfing” that will be based on a user’s desire to tune into what’s trending on social, and his team is working on features for future versions of Pixie that will incorporate this paradigm shift: “There’s a thousand channels – you might know five,” Bond joked. “There’s a few shows that I watch that I care about. But if I saw something coming up here [Bond pointed to the Twitter trending section of the current version of Pixie], why can’t I use what’s trending to navigate and change channels? That’s a critical piece for us: taking your favorite web content that’s trending, that’s important, that your friends are talking about, and using that to navigate to channels that you want to go to. That’s the direction we want to go in terms of Facebook trending and Twitter trending.”
The value that Pixie (and other connected TV app companies such as RelayTV and OneTwoSee) is providing to users and app manufacturers alike is a TV-viewing experience that builds upon existing social TV trends and anticipates future media consumption trends.
Viewers have increasingly made it clear that they invite distraction while watching TV.
But there’s no need to look down.