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CES: With Samba, Flingo attempts to blur the line between first and second screens

With CES 2013 kicking off today, Flingo, a publisher of Smart TV apps, will demonstrate its new platform, Samba. Available across multiple devices, Samba automatically synchs with live TV shows, and serves as a recommendation engine for related online videos and other relevant shows. It also surfaces the social conversation surrounding the show you’re watching, and allows you to easily check-in to programs and share content with friends.

According to Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Flingo, Samba will “blur the lines between first screenand second screen, between traditional TV and smart TV. For example, if someone is watching an episode of Comedy Central Roast live, Samba will recommend the 5 best Roast videos from the web, so you can continue that viewing experience after the show is over, with one-click of your TV remote. Not sure which video you want? Check out a preview from your iPad first, and then fling the video you like to your TV.” We spoke to Navin about Samba and the second screen industry.

Lost Remote: The second screen is still catching on with consumers – it hasn’t hit full-blown adoption yet. Why did you create a second screen application now?
Ashwin Navin: There’s a big glitch in the Social TV, OTT matrix. It’s the disjointed experience of second screen apps, which don’t really mesh with the lean-back viewing experience we all love and enjoy about TV. And couple that with the floundering Smart TV “app store.” It’s very painful to switch from regular TV to Smart TV, and then to discover and download apps. Some of these TV platforms (which shall remain nameless) make me want to lose my remote on the interstate.

With Samba, we want to blur the lines between first screen and second screen, between traditional TVand smart TV. For example, if someone is watching an episode of Comedy Central Roast live, Samba will recommend the 5 best Roast videos from the Web, so you can continue that viewing experience after the show is over, with one-click of your TV remote. Not sure which video you want? Check out a preview from your iPad first, and then fling the video you like to your TV.

LR: How does the platform differ from others already out there? 
Navin: First off, Samba is both first screen and second screen. Second, Samba’s automatic content recognition (ACR) technology is built in-house, specifically for the purpose of enhancing live and time-shifted TV programming. It’s super fast, super accurate and it detects TV shows including advertisements. Third, Samba has central focus on user-experience. Although there are several stakeholders in the ecosystem, we are all in service of the viewer, and the viewer isn’t interested in an algorithm. Viewers want great recommendations, and personalization, and rich, memorable experiences with content they love.

LR: How do you see this product impacting the second screen industry on a whole?
Navin: We will be spending more time with operators and TV manufacturers in 2013, because they own the first-screen. As our footprint of Samba grows, we will support the second screen industry with APIs. We already have a second screen API documented and available to help contextualize and monetize second screen apps.

LR: What are the benefits to manufacturers?
Navin: Samba is a killer app for TV platforms, both manufacturers and operators. We hope to bring rapid innovation and new revenue to an industry that is not known for its rapid product cycles. In the complex world of OTT vs. traditional TV, the ecosystem beats vertical integration every time. Just look at how much market share Android has captured against Apple’s vertical integration in the Smart Phone space. TV manufacturers and TV operators need to bring in the best of breed partners to keep the viewership and market share, which is theirs to lose at this point.

LR: What are the social components?
Navin: The integration of Samba enables interactive TV features like check-ins, tweets, polls, quizzes, cast and crew information, special offers from the device or directly on the TV itself via the remote.

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