Our tablets and smartphones have started invading the living room. A Nielsen report claims that more than 40% of US TV viewers use their tablets and/or smartphones when watching TV.
This behavior opens up an opportunity to create new TV experiences including:
- Show engagement
- Guidance &
It is clear that content producers always wanted to engage with their audience to feel their pulse, solicit feedback, & build brand amongst other things. Engaged audiences garner higher CPMs. Show producers today use fan pages, clips and hash tags to engage their audience on twitter & facebook.
This infographic from the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance blog shows how much users are engaging with TV shows today.
- 110,000 Social comments on average per episode for X-Factor, the “most buzzed about” series in 2011
- 23% of the people viewing the ad on the second screen engaged with it
- 1.8 billion “likes” on Facebook for TV shows
- 25% of 18-24 year-olds are interested in having more social features integrated into their TV viewing experience
- 5,567,954 Social comments on the MTV Music Video Awards
Typically fanpage & hashtag related engagement creatives are decided post-facto – after the show has been made. To get the best out of this medium, the ideal way is to get the creative teams for the main storyline & augmented content working at the same time.
There are 2 types of engagement:
- Synchronous – real time as the show is being aired
- Evergreen – this is useful for getting feedback post the show (facebook fan pages for example)
Synchronous engagement is typically a lot more current, more engaging, can be more creative and typically more social since it is in sync with the show & no one knows what to expect next.
Synchronous TV works best with “appointment viewing” shows/genres like
- Reality TV
- Live sports
- Events – Oscars, MTV awards
In order to enable this, content producers need a platform to deal with
- Content management – for augmented content like calls to action, product placement, synchronous ads, actor bios, outtakes etc.
- Sync engine – that is capable of syncing the user’s application to the correct linear time of the show
- An app – that will present all this information to the user on their tablets/smartphones
Most apps use some form of audio fingerprinting to recognize shows. Many compete on the time it takes to recognize the show. Most second screen apps do the minimum of recognizing the show and providing additional information about the show, cast & crew.
Miso differentiates itself by working in conjunction with the operator – DirecTV, AT&T instead of using audio fingerprinting. The problem is that many users don’t have the app up and running during the show. So voice recognition systems are of no use. The trick according to the folks at Miso is to garner data about usage regardless of the app being launched and to communicate via notifications – a push model. Miso uses the wifi connection on the set top box to communicate with the app/platform.
The important thing according to me is not make sure there is no drastic change in use case for the user when he is watching TV. A drastic change in use case is justifiable if there is a drastic change in value perceived by the user.
TVPlus understands this to some extent and has created an app that integrates with the facebook experience. I believe they have built a client with an integrated webkit engine. The point however is that they believe that most users have facebook on when watching TV and so allow them to continue “facebooking” during the show…but if there is something they find interesting during the show and want to know more or talk about it, the integrated “drop-down” menu shows up and allows the user to check-in, find more info, share etc.
Another interesting use case is that of Snappy.tv. They facilitate engagement by giving users the ability to “record & post” a clip of the TV show and post on Facebook & Twitter. Snappy works with content providers to enable this option. In the back-end they record shows from content providers. Whenever a user decides to comment on a show or a live sporting event, the user can click on “post”. This sends a message to the back-end which then takes a 20 second clip and presents it to the user who can then comment and post it to the social network. People are posting to twitter anyway…with a clip of the event added it makes it more engaging.
They also provide a platform to broadcasters to leverage this use case. Here is a recent example.
Others in the engagement space include:
- Umami, ConnecTV – TV platform
- Media-Sync – Nielsen + Digimarc platform
- TVTak – focus on media recognition. Uses both audio & video fingerprinting to identify show in 1 sec
- Gracenote – Similar to IntoNow
We are all familiar with the TV grid we call the program guide. Being an X-Y grid helps navigation with a remote. However in the age of touch screen interfaces and 3D graphics there is no need to be limited by the XY grid.
The Logitech Harmony Link remote and a few others including ZeeBox bring a rich interactive program guide on the tablet that communicate with the set top box to provision the program stream on the TV & get additional information on the shows on demand.
The Logitech Harmony Link connects to the iPad on one end using WiFi and using an IR blaster on the other end to talk to the set top box.
Apple’s Airplay technology popularized second screen gaming and ‘video slinging’. .
Gesture recognition and wireless connectivity enable some good gaming experiences on the TV screen.
Companies like MOVL also bringing a casual gaming platform to TV screens using the cloud to communicate with the TV/Set top.
Increasingly applications will begin to use the cloud to facilitate communication between devices that will change the way we have been used to interacting with what were traditionally passive devices in the living room.
Theres is a point of view that TVs will get dumber with the smarts being handed off to second screen devices. I tend to agree. I have brought up this point in my other posts too.
What we are seeing now are only some of the ways second screen interaction will transform our TV experiences. We are now only limited by our imagination and creativity as the technology pieces are all in place.