2nd Screen Summit: Companion Experiences Still in the 'Awkward Teenage Years'

Sports Panel Discusses Importance of Companion, Social Experiences
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New York -- While second-screen experiences have seen growth in recent years, there is still a long way to go.

"We're in the awkward teenage years of second screen and companion experiences," said Scott Levine, senior VP, video product for Univision Interactive, during the "2nd Screen & Live Sports" panel at Thursday's 2nd Screen Summit at Chelsea Clearview Cinemas. "There's still a lot of discovery and experimentation going on."

Levine continued, saying that because of the vast array of sporting events, second-screen experiences are more of a case-by-case thing. "I don't think its 'one-size-fits-all and I don't even think its '30-sizes-fits-all,'" he said. "We're going to have to try to find the right experience to the right type of environment for the right type of event for the right type of person."

Patty Hirsh, VP and GM, CBS Interactive Advanced Media, argued that it's more about the content than the platform: "Our strategy, especially on the sports side, is built around not thinking about the different platforms but thinking about certain content and where it's going to go." She also maintained that companion viewing is "critical" to CBS Interactive.

The panel was in agreement that a major drive for second screen experiences is the social element, especially with Twitter being known as an online sports bar.

Christy King, VP, digital, technology R&D, UFC, said the MMA outfit has a leg up due to its chief executive Dana White, whom she called "the world's loudest" person on Twitter. "He was online and doing that before most of anybody on staff was including our PR department."

So it comes as no surprise that the social-media element is a big part of what the UFC does. "We have built social experiences into basically everything we've ever built," she said. "There are always Twitter feeds, Facebook feeds and Vine connections."

Hirsch said that social media was a big part of CBS's second-screen Super Bowl offering, which was buoyed by the infamous blackout at New Orleans' Superdome. "Social was a key component," said Hirsch. "Especially because of the anomaly that happened with the blackout, it was a hugely successful social event."

Aside from blackouts, the panel agreed that the infrastructure at sporting venues still has a long way to go, with thousands of fans struggling to get their iPhone and Android apps working at the same time.

King, who said the UFC is releasing a new fan experience app, said they have built in capability to turn off certain features depending on where the user is. "We know they can't consume this kind of video or this kind of game [in certain venues], so we just turn it off." She said the UFC has a tougher time than regular sports leagues because the UFC stages events all around the world, sometimes in third-world countries.

"It's an ongoing problem, but it's getting better every single day," said Hirsch.