Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bonnier signs up with Flingo to bring its magazine content to smart TVs; new start-ups work with TV set makers to bring 3rd party content to displays before Apple can expand its own TV solutions

The U.S. division of the Bonnier Group today announced that it will entering into a partnership with Flingo, the well-funded smart TV app start-up. Flingo's CEO is Ashwin Navin, the executive behind BitTorrent.

Ashwin Navin
Bonnier hopes to bring content from its 45 publications such as Popular Science, Parenting and Field & Stream to the family room via smart TV apps found inside the sets from LG, Samsung, Vizio, Sanyo and Insignia, as well as TiVo.

"Our TV apps with Flingo provides a new, more engaging way for people to take advantage of our great content," Bonnier's Chief Brand Development Officer Sean Holzman said in the company's announcement. "Watching content on a big screen in HD is an amazing new way for our readers to absorb the videos they love. A TransWorld SNOWboarding subscriber can not only enjoy a competition up close, they can share their thoughts and reactions with others in real-time – all from their own living room."

"Smart TVs open up a market of millions of people who are looking for high quality content at their fingertips. We look forward to a long and successful partnership with Bonnier," said Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Flingo.

Flingo has received several big infusions of capital this year. Back in February, Flingo announced a $7 million Series A round investment from August Capital, while in May the company announced a further $8 million in investment from a group that included Mark Cuban and Gary Lauder.

The theme of publishers accessing the family room television has been a small, but consistent topic here at TNM. Sadly, I have not until now created a category for such stories, but there have been a number of posts about the efforts of such media titles as the WSJ and their efforts at live video.

The elephant in the room, for a couple of years now, has been Apple. It has its own TV product, of course — the Apple TV – but the anticipation has been that the company would come up with something else (or at least transform its current Apple TV into something bigger).

The problem with television is that everyone entering the business wants to be the gatekeeper, the ones that come between the content and the viewer. Right now, that intermediary is the cable and satellite companies. With the Apple TV, Apple is simply another provider, one that can grant you access to the audience, or shut you out.
Smart TV apps work the same way in that each TV set maker offers a set number of app offerings. No one has opened up the TV yet in any meaningful way. Until that happens a publisher has only a few options. They can hope that the reader will stream their content, via AirPlay, for instance. Alternatively, one can take the course of the WSJ and attempt to create their own channels that will appear in these alternative distribution channels created through either the Apple TV or smart TVs.

I'm not really sure what Flingo is offering for Bonnier here. The company is working on both smart TV apps, as well as software that allows viewers more content and social interaction with standard television programming (as seen in the picture above-left).

The television model has proved to be a tough nut to crack, but company's like Flingo, let alone Apple and Google, are bound to shake things up. Smart publishers should be aware that their efforts in the way of video for tablet editions, could come in handy when the screen changes from a tablet to a HDTV.