TV and Tech – A World of Opportunities

Written on July 22nd, 2013

This week, for the first time ever, television shows not aired on traditional TV networks, have been nominated for Emmy awards. Of particular note is Netflix’s House of Cards (Kevin Spacey) which just received several nominations and is the first original online show to receive a primetime Emmy nomination.

Who woulda thunk a few years ago that “Internet TV” would soon be producing content on par or better than the big traditional networks. To watch this content you need an internet connection and a Netflix account – not a Rogers or Bell cable package. And when Netflix launches a series like House of Cards, it releases all the season’s episodes at once. You watch them when you want, from whatever device you want, from wherever you are. Unlike traditional linear TV, when we all had to make sure we were in front of the tube at 9pm every Wednesday nights to watch Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys (oops, did I just say I watched Trailer Park Boys!)

All this to say that tech is changing the TV experience. And we see lots of investor opportunity. Note Google’s announcement last week to also get into the on-line TV segment and Amazon is already focussing on this as well. This is why we focus on the intersection of the Technology and Media segments. We think online and mobile technology (often called the “second screen”) makes content ultimately more valuable as viewers can access it anywhere, anytime. Thus our investments in pure content names like Thunderbird Films & Blue Ant Media. And we have an investment in Quickplay Media, which is the cloud based technology that Rogers, Bell and AT&T use to let you view your TV channels on your mobile and tablet devices.

And then we have an investment in a really cool name called iPowow. This company enables TV shows to have real-time interactive voting embedded in the show. Shows use the technology to pose a question to the watching audience and the user uses their mobile phone or tablet to submit their response in real time. Sports shows ask questions like “Do you think the pass was complete or a dropped ball?” “Should that penalty have been called?” “Who was the most valuable player?” Pageants can ask the audience for their vote on the contestants, etc. What we and the networks really like about this technology is that it significantly increases viewer engagement, drives ratings and is “PVR proof” … and ultimately increases advertising dollars. Not to mention there is a big data play here. You will see this technology deployed heavily this fall.

All this to say is that Difference Capital is working to give you exposure to the opportunities in the rapidly changing TV sector. So don’t change that channel.

Tom Astle, CFA, P.Eng, Head of Investment Strategy, Difference Capital

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