Coming soon… to a Second Screen near you!
The marvels – of film, radio, and television – are marvels of one-way communication, which is not communication at all. ~Milton Mayer
For many decades, this statement held true. However with the recent advent of smartphone & tablet computing technology, coupled with the proliferation of social media, this is now no longer the case.
Consumption of the traditional forms of broadcasting is now being supplemented, enhanced and re-defined by 21st century technology, creating a whole new interactive experience for audiences, and creating a myriad of opportunities for broadcasters and their commercial partners.
For example, UK viewers are now well accustomed to seeing hashtags displayed at the start of television broadcasts e.g. #bbcqt for BBC’s Question Time, allowing audiences to use microblogging sites such as Twitter to provide near instantaneous feedback and commentary on the programme’s hot topics. Suddenly members of the public, outside of the studio audience, are able to take part and even influence the on-screen debate using their second screen device.
In the US, an iPad app was recently launched to be used in conjunction with viewing of the television drama Grey’s Anatomy. This provides a whole suite of second screen functionality, like polls, trivia, behind the scenes insights, production details and character bios. The app syncs to particular moments of an episode through the use of audio watermarks, providing the most appropriate content at the right time, and even allows users to check into “virtual environments” with key characters. The app launch has been sponsored by a well-known car manufacturer, demonstrating the attraction to commercial partners.
Google, Samsung and others are in the process of launching internet TV’s which they believe will totally revolutionize the television market, bringing tv, apps, search and the web together. Whilst this is clearly an important development, it must not be forgotten that TV viewing is very much a communal experience and having a member of your family playing around with different on-screen features, either alongside or over the top of the main picture will quickly result in huge arguments and a detrimental viewing experience. Second screen devices have the potential to take all of this aggro away, allowing each family member to take control of their own interactive experience, or just watch the main screen undisturbed.
From a commercial perspective this could also mean much more effective, targeted advertising direct to the second screen device, meaning less guys being subjected to “bodyform” adverts and less girls watching, or more likely ignoring, online betting ads.
Second screen devices also offer huge potential for improving on today’s red button interactive coverage for Sport. For example, say I’ve sat down to watch a Formula 1 race with my sister in the living room. I want to re-watch the big crash at the start but my sister wants to experience the race via the in-car camera from Button’s McLaren and monitor his split times. Neither of us though wants to miss any of the live action. By each using our own second screen devices, a range of different viewing experiences are then possible, whilst leaving the main broadcast untouched on the home tv screen.
Gamification is another area that crosses neatly into this space. Already, game shows such as The Million Pound Drop are encouraging viewers to register online and play along at home, with real time analytics being used to assess the relative performance of girls vs boys or the north vs the south. It may only be a matter of time before the on-screen contestants competing for the money are replaced by the home tv audience playing along on their second screen devices, giving everyone the chance of winning big!
By using effective analytics on the viewing habits of the second screen devices, and monitoring the use of related social channels, broadcasters and advertisers suddenly have a much more effective understanding of their audience and can adapt and improve their future shows and campaigns accordingly.
Second screen is the future but the technology is here today!