Comcast, Shazam offer glimpse at future
BOSTON--While walking through the Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) exhibit here at The Cable Show on Monday, I stopped short when I saw Shazam's icon spinning on a TV that was displaying Comcast's new X1 digital video service.
Comcast made a big splash by launching X1 at The Cable Show, but it hadn't announced that it was working with Shazam, a company known for providing automatic content recognition (ACR) technology that lets mobile phone and tablet users identify songs or TV shows.
"Right now it's a technology proof of concept. We haven't really made any announcements about it, but you can imagine some of the fun things that we can do," Comcast SVP and chief software architect Sree Kotay told me.
Shazam demo at The Cable Show
The Comcast demo showed how a cable subscriber could use Shazam to identify music videos playing on networks like MTV. One of Kotay's colleagues activated Shazam by pressing a button on the X1 remote, and it immediately identified a Rhianna video. He was then able to search Comcast's on-demand library for all content featuring the R&B singer.
Smartphone owners who use the Shazam app to identify songs are able to purchase those songs from Amazon's MP3 store and other sources.
With Comcast and other MSOs embracing tablets and smartphones, it's possible that cable operators that integrate Shazam into their interactive program guides could use it to make a business out of selling songs, TV shows and merchandise to subscribers who use Shazam to identify content.
Kotay said Comcast may also be able to use Shazam to enable social TV applications, meaning subscribers could use Shazam to identify content with their remote controls, and share what they're watching with friends on social networks.
Comcast isn't the first cable MSO to work with Shazam. In February, Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) teamed up with Shazam and t-commerce technology company Delivery Agent to let Super Bowl viewers on NBC buy Super Bowl apparel by pressing a button on their remote controls.
These are still early days for ACR and Shazam, and cable operators are just beginning to experiment. But the technology could help MSOs boost revenue by helping them sell more VOD content and even DVDs and other products related to the content that a subscriber identifies with Shazam.-- Steve