Exploiting the Second Screen Opportunity


Operators and programmers are testing
new social-networking and device strategies — at the
same time, many viewers already have a smartphone,
tablet or PC in hand while watching TV. What
are the best opportunities to hook in to that
“second screen” usage? When executed successfully,
operators and programmers that
harness second screens can boost ratings,
increase viewer engagement and grow ad

Two opportunities with emerging potential
are synced apps and social TV. Both play into
the desire that many viewers have to participate
in conversations and get closer to the entertainment

Synced apps run on a tablet or smartphone,
in real time with a TV show or movie.
Integrating check-ins with on-air action,
real-time polls, behind-the-scenes commentary and
transmedia storytelling are examples of compelling
ways to engage viewers.

Successful apps provide tools for “superfans” to promote
viewership. Importantly, synced apps should also
have “asynchronous” features, such as games that continue
to engage after the show or movie airs. For a recent
example of a smart second-screen initiative, check out
the NBC Live iPad app.

Social TV integrates social networking with the viewing
experience. Some of the most successful examples
use Twitter hash tags on-air to encourage conversations
that can be tracked, or feature trending tweets directly
into the programming, either in real time or as part of
the production process.

Every time a viewer sits in front of the TV with a connected
device in hand, there is the potential
for distraction. But there is also an opportunity
to engage the viewer in a conversation
that makes the content he or she is watching
even more valuable.

There are several benefits of successfully
launching a second-screen initiative. Programmers
can boost ratings and awareness,
increase tune-ins, reduce tune-away
and grow the ranks of fans that spread the
word. They also stand to boost ad revenue
by making advertising more engaging and
interactive. Successful engagement results
in mass interaction, and that means ample
usage data for customer analytics — TV
check-in app GetGlue, which recently hit the millionuser
mark, claims to have amassed 100 million data
points. Operators can benefit from usage data to better
their understanding of the video customer and drive increased

The stage is set for second-screen initiatives to take
off . Viewers have the devices and desire to participate;
programmers and operators must now decide where to
focus investments and partnerships.

Jonathan Weitz is a partner with IBB Consulting, leading
growth strategies for content owners, service providers,
device manufacturers and software providers.