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The problem with Second Screen, so far

27 Jun

I recently came across an article detailing what’s wrong with the second screen industry.  Although I do believe that second screen hasn’t quite figured it out yet, I completely disagree with (most) of what was said in this article.  You can find the article here, and let me know what you think.

First, the article states that the second screen was born out of boredom and defined by consumers.  Although that may be true, it evolved, like so much else, so that TV viewers could talk about what was happening in and around their favorite programs.  It used to be that you would talk about what you watched at work or school the next day with your friends – now you can do it instantly, as it’s happening, with superfans all over the country.

The second point the author tries to make is that “too many are trying to make the second screen the first screen”.  I don’t see that happening, at least not yet.  The apps that do allow for users to vote, choose the ending to an episode, etc., are very well received, even for the “lean-back” experience that is TV viewing.  Viewers want to feel like they are part of the TV experience, not just passive bystanders.  TV viewing has changed, like so much else, to an interactive experience.  For example, Psych’s 100th episode, where viewers were able to vote for the killer and therefore influence the ending of the episode, had very high involvement on social.

One app to rule them all? Yes, although many people (myself included) download more apps than we actually use, I don’t  believe that means that content providers and distributers should combine all of their content into one application for consumers to use.  Take me, for example.  I watch Game of Thrones and Newsroom on HBO, Dexter on Showtime, Psych on USA, and Revenge, Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC. Although there are apps that allow you to watch all programs within it (Zeebox), the best apps that allow for interactivity are the specialized apps that are show specific.  Again, using myself as an example, I only use the second screen apps for the shows that I am truly obsessed with (like Dexter, which I have been watching since season two).  Most people will not use every second screen app for every show they watch, it’s just not possible.

I do agree with the author that many times second screen applications evolve as an after thought.  For the industry to truly be taken seriously, and be adopted by the masses, second screen has to be integrated from the beginning, part and parcel with the content.  One truly great example is Burn Notice’s “First Contact”.  They have done a great job of integrating the shows content into a second screen experience from the beginning.

However, there is much more to social TV than just knowing what is trending or most watched.  It’s an EKG or barometer of the most popular moments of a program – whether its sports or reality.

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The rise of movie companion applications

29 May

I’m not quite sure when movie companion apps started to appear, but recently, with the rise in popularity of TV companion and third-party applications, they have become more of a “necessity” when releasing a blockbuster movie it seems. The recent releases of Star Trek Into Darkness, the Smurfs, and Dark Knight Rises have all had movie apps accompany them, in an effort to drive more people to the theaters.

My question is: how much traction are these apps gaining with the general public? Early adopters, like myself, and die hard movie fans would jump on these like spots on a dog.  However, I don’t see the “average” smartphone user gravitating towards these apps – they might not even know they exist.

epicIn the past six months, eleven movies have been released with companion applications.  About half of those movies have been released in the past month and a half (or will be released this weekend), including Epic, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Iron Man 3.  As an avid second-screen and social tv junkie, I didn’t know about half of these applications (and I only saw two of the eleven movies).  If that’s true of myself, what does that say of the general public or late adopters of newer technology?

photo (1)

My sticker from checking into Star Trek Into Darkness opening weekend

In the iTunes store, it’s not that easy to find movie companion applications. Unless you know what you are looking for, or if the app is the featured application on the home screen, I doubt you would even know the app exists.  As a marketing strategy, it doesn’t make much sense to make people work to find your application.  If you know that there is a large audience on a second screen application like GetGlue, why not advertise there? You know people are going to check in when they go see the movie so they get the sticker.

Over half of cell phone owners in the US own a smartphone, according to a 2012 Nielsen study. Seeing as now it’s midway through 2013, I’m sure it’s more than 60% by now.  That being said, the App Store recently passed 50 billion app downloads – including apps for iPad, iPhone, and iPod.  In my brief research, I noticed that a few of the movie companion apps that came out in the past few months were iPad only. I don’t know the percentage of people that have iPads, but I can guess that it is much less than the percentage of people that have smartphones, or even iPhones – but more than any other tablet.  (I did look at apps available on droid – not all are available for both platforms).

Some new movie app releases are intended to drive hype for box office hits, while other movie companion apps are released in conjunction with DVD releases to drive in home purchases.  If the purpose is to get the public excited about a movie or DVD release, and willing to pay the $10-$12 to see the movie in theaters (or the $20-$25 for a DVD or Blu-ray release), maybe having a more thought out marketing strategy would help.

I’m looking forward to seeing what upcoming movies will be coming out with companion apps.  I can already tell you that both Man of Steel and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire both have companion apps.  Hopefully, with the proliferation of movie apps, they will grow in popularity, like social TV apps did eventually.  Only time will tell.

What is the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie app like?

17 May

Over the past couple months, I’ve become familiar with third party TV and movie apps, like GetGlue and Viggle, but with the upcoming release of Star Trek, I wanted to learn more about movie companion applications.  I took some time to get to know the new app.

home screen

The Star Trek Into Darkness movie app, as a way to promote the upcoming release of the movie, gets users to interact with the Star Trek Facebook page, as well as the original Star Trek TV episodes.   It is essentially a virtual scavenger hunt, dragging you around the web to uncover exclusives and behind-the-scenes content.  Every time you interact with the application – scan a photo, listen for audio and more – you earn points, which brings you higher up in rank.  The rank system is exactly like it is in Star Trek: New Recruit, Cadet, Crewman, and so on.  Additionally, you can take quizzes and answer poll questions to test your knowledge of Star Trek history and Starfleet rules and regulations, which also gets you points.  You do have the ability to “skip” a mission, if you are unable to complete it, or like me, you’ve spent too much time searching for a video that you just can’t find.

star trek news

The app also forces you to interact with the 2009 movie, so if you hadn’t planned on re-watching it before going to see Into Darkness, this is a good excuse.

The app also streams news and exclusives to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening behind the scenes.  Or it says it does.  In reality, the “news” button just shows short links to sponsors and partners of the app and the movie, like Hulu Plus and Mazda (although you can get a free month of Hulu Plus through the app if you don’t already subscribe).

After moving up a few ranks, you start to earn rewards.  So far, I’ve made it to Captain, I’ve earned rewards such as exclusive behind the scenes photos from Star Trek IV, videos from the actors of Into Darkness, and character bios.  Although the games are fun, and the interactivity is great, the level effort I am putting in is not being rewarded adequately.  You don’t get rewards after graduating to a higher rank, they come sporadically and randomly.  They come only when you do certain interactions, scan specific photos or take a specific quiz.  If the point is to get consumers excited about the movie release and interact with content on multiple platforms, I don’t believe the app is getting that done.   I applaud the levels of interactivity, though the reward system needs some work – more engaging exclusive content or the occasional physical reward, even a poster would do (it shows that my efforts matter to the creators of the app.)

The further you get in rank, the more of a scavenger hunt the game becomes.  You have to dig harder and look in more places for content if you want to earn points.  Content is no longer just on the Star Trek Facebook page, or on their partner sites.  For some, this would pose as a turn off.  After getting to Captain, the only missions I have left to accomplish is to physically go to locations (Seatle Space Needle, Hollywood walk of stars) to complete the game.  Right now, it doesn’t seem as if there is an end in sight.   The dedicated Trekkie would keep on to earn the rewards to finish the game and see what’s in store for them at the end.

For the Trekkie, this is a great companion application.  It matches the level of interest most Trekkies have in the series, as it integrates the original series with the upcoming movie release.  However, for the casual observer, I don’t believe this will maintain interest over an extended period of time.

Researching #SocialTV and the #SecondScreen

1 May

This semester, I conducted research for my Social Media Theory and Practice class on Social TV and the Second Screen market.  Due to my past experience in entertainment and social tv, I was interested in what it could offer, and recently, there were a lot of changes.

The hardest part was trying to figure out where to start my research.  With the amount of information out there, I was a bit overwhelmed to begin with.  I had to take an angle in order to filter out the information, and obviously I couldn’t present everything in a 20 minute presentation.   I began gathering data from industry sources like Lost Remote, Second Screen Society, Trendrr, and more.
I decided, after looking at all the data I gathered, to examine the state of the industry.  As so much has changed so quickly in the past few months,  I wanted to represent what Social TV is like right now, as it could change in a week.
After determining what I was going to focus on, I needed to find industry leaders and experts to talk to and get their insights about the state of social tv.  At first, it was difficult to find experts to speak with. However, after I began tweeting about social TV, I started getting responses to my inquiries.  I had the opportunity to interview Mick Darling and Amy Greenlaw at Tomorrowish, as well as Michael Cupo at ESPN, and Kimber Myers at GetGlue.  Being able to connect with individuals from different aspects of the industry was a great experience, and gave me a different perspective on how each sees social playing a role in what they do.
As part of the collaboration process, I had a G+ hangout with my professor, Dr. Ward, to discuss the progress I had made in my research, who I had talked to in the industry, and other such things.  After going through my presentation, and making some notes, we went through the features that a Google Hangout can offer.  I had never really seen the add-ons before, but being able to watch a video together online, for example, is a pretty cool feature.
google hangout
In organizing and getting prepared for my presentation, we were encouraged to use pearltrees to organize the content we found.  Although many of the websites and articles never made it into my final report, it was useful to have all the content I curated in one location, so I didn’t have to dig through a folder to find everything I wanted to reference.  Below is my pearltree for Social TV.
pearltrees

socialmention metrics

After presenting on April 25, my #2ndscrntv presentation hashtag had almost 70 thousand impressions, with 56 thousand accounts reached.  But what does that mean?  Reach is the total number of unique Twitter users that my search terms were delivered to (#2ndscrntv).  Exposure is the total number of times tweets about these terms were delivered to Twitter streams.  There is no guarantee that everyone who was delivered tweets saw them, but the potential for audience is there.  Below is a Tweetreach and SocialMention report for #2ndscrntv less than 4 hours after my presentation.
tweetreach metrics

The State of #SocialTV and #SecondScreen

28 Apr

The State of #SocialTV and #SecondScreen

A look at the current state of Social TV and the Second Screen

 
  1. Last presentation of my #newhousesm6 class, and my graduate career!
  2. Waiting for the next teaching presentation by @sblumen about the state of #socialtv and #secondscreen #2ndscrntv #newhouseSM6
     
     
  3. Around the same time that Social TV apps started being adopted by early innovaters, Social TV – in general – was being adopted by the wider social population.
  4. Second screen is the idea that the tab or smartphone becomes a TV #2ndscrntv
     
     
  5. The second screen allows for more layers of interactivity and engagement that adds to the primary content on your TV.
  6. Of the entire Twitter user base, about 2/3 tweet while watching TV.  That means that TV content providers and advertisers have an additional way to engage and interact with these viewers while they are watching their favorite shows.
  7. ESPN doesn’t look at second screen applications, but looks at influencers on social #2ndscrntv
     
     
  8. .@espn doesn’t think of “first screen” & “second screen”- but in terms of best experience for fans! @allcupo #2NDSCRNTV #Social4FanExp
     
     
  9. When it comes to live sporting events, “real-time” is more important that anything else. Second screen apps don’t play a big role in real-time events, however, influencers on social do.
  10. To enhance. To discover. To share. To Control. The four main reasons for a #secondscreen app #2ndscrntv #newhousesm6 ow.ly/koMeQ
     
     
  11. GetGlue uses social media to engage viewers on the second screen #2ndscrntv
     
     
  12. GetGlue rewards viewers for tuning during a broadcast.  But more than that, the check-ins act like a “barometer of what you should be watching live”, according to Kimber Myers of @GetGlue. 
  13. Tomorrowish curates the content of the convo of the show that you missed #2ndscrntv
     
     
  14. @Tomorrowish, a DVR for Twitter, curates the social conversation about a show your watching, whether its a day, week, or month later.  It also makes re-watching more interesting, as more is always added to the social conversation. 
  15. Right now, Twitter is a big player in Social. However, their focus is not TV. Mick’s opinion is that if they do not focus on innovating in that, they will lose out as the industry evolves and becomes more widely adopted.
  16. What does it matter if you can’t measure who is talking, and when?.  Analytics companies like Bluefin, Trendrr, and SocialGuide do just that.  
  17. What’s to come in #socialtv? “there’s no one size fits all solution” #2ndscrntv #secondscreen #newhousesm6
     
     
  18. The industry is still in the “early adopter” phase.  There is still so much more to come as Social TV and Second Screen mature, and become adopted by the social community.  There is no way of knowing what will happen a year from now, let alone five years from now.  All we can do is see what users now are doing, and innovate the best we can.
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