-Votes Appear on First Screen in Real Time
iPowow wooed audience members at the Second Screen Summit at NAB earlier this year with a demo of its interactive second screen platform. iPowow offers a one-of-a-kind experience for users by enabling them to have a two-way interaction with the content on the TV screen.
Gavin Douglas, chief creative officer at iPowow, calls the platform “participation TV,” because it has taken what is referred to as “interactive TV” one more step. The premise is that a viewer watching a show on TV can use a smartphone or other second screen device to register a vote that will then be pushed back to the television screen and reflected in a graphic. That two-way communication is truly interactive, Douglas said.
“If you can have 60,000 people or a million people sliding their fingers up and down their smartphones, and expect the graphics to move on the TV – then you’ve got interactive television,” he told The Online Reporter.
This is a step beyond what we see with voting for a contestant on “American Idol.” Instead, thousands and even millions of viewers are able to simultaneously interact with a TV graphic like a chorus of singing (or booing) fans. The quality of that engagement is powerful, Douglas said. “We believe that participation television is the one thing that’s going to engage consumers in the moment with their TV screen,” he said. “At the moment, content is competing for consumers’ time,” Douglas said. “It’s always been like that, but now more than ever, consumers are snacking on that content.”
Keeping viewers and eyeballs on the TV screen is a matter of getting the viewers engaged and involved in the content. “They want to interact with the content,” he said. “The question is how to best create the content and the interaction that is compelling, to get people to engage with it.”
iPowow has powered apps for broadcasters such as ESPN, NASCAR on Fox Sports, UFC, Top Rank Boxing and Supercross. The iPowow platform was also used for other broadcasts including Miss Universe, the American Music Awards, “Dragons Den” and “Project Runway.”
Viewers See Their Votes on the First Screen
While most interactive second screen apps today focus on answering poll questions or playing games related to the show, iPowow is doing something completely different. “Right now, there’s tidal wave of second screen engagement platforms,” Douglas said. “We are leading the way in participation TV. We’re the only platform in the US that is [doing this].”
The platform enables a two-way conversation between viewer and TV screen, in which the viewer can press a button on the second screen device and then see a reaction on the TV screen. “In a major sporting event, when we have an entire nation watching the television – or the entire world, in some cases – you could allow the TV producers to ask questions in the moment, and have all those millions of people hitting buttons and sliding their fingers on the smartphone at once, and have that interaction influence the storyline in the TV show,” Douglas said.
The lynchpin of this interactive second screen app is that viewers who participate in the show with their second screen devices can actually see that participation manifest itself, for example as a graphic that appears on the first screen.
What’s more, the interaction is occurring in real time. “Every fifth of a second, the platform combines the 50,000 people voting,” Douglas said. “Every fifth of a second, your vote arrives on television. That changes the emotion of the TV show, the debate of the TV show.”
Yes, Viewers Do Want to Engage with Content
Douglas said that viewers need to be engaged with the storyline and where it’s going in order to stay engaged with the show, whether it be an awards ceremony or a sporting event, or even possibly a scripted TV show.
iPowow viewers have reacted very well to this participation TV, where they can interact with the show and see the results. Douglas touted 10-20% levels of engagement of viewers on the second screen for its shows, which is pretty high. “If you look at a hashtag battle, you’re getting between 1% and 1.5% engagement,” Douglas said.
This will give you an idea of what 10-20% engagement looks like:
-The Miss Universe competition in 2011, iPowow’s platform helped deliver 23.6 million votes using the platform, 65,000 votes per second recorded during the peak voting period.
-For the Vodafone Summer of Cricket series, iPowow’s platform had 3.9 million check-ins over a period of 40 days, 720,000 downloads of the Cricket Live app, and iPowow measured 23% average viewer engagement during the peak periods.
-ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” saw close to 80,000 impressions the day the app launched, a 1,500% increase in Facebook “Likes” compared to the average fight night, and a 960% increase in average Friday Night Fights page views during the app launch.
-The ESPN Sportcenter saw 2.6 million votes cast in a 4.5 minute period using the platform, 53.3 million Twitter impressions, over 68,000 Facebook story “Likes” and over 17,000 Facebook comments.
The gist here is that the engagement levels are outstanding for television.
“We are creating engaging content with producers in the TV show, we’re engaging people in the second screen and we’re then putting that info back into the TV to create new content and change the storyline,” Douglas said. “That backwards and forwards interaction between the first screen and the second screen and back to the first screen, is how TV producers are getting 15% engagement with TV shows on the second screen.”
Heads Up Engagement Helps TV Retain Eyeballs
Any second screen app must walk a fine line between ….
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