Tag Archives: early adopters

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?

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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.

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