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Hurdles for the second screen

8 September 2012
Hurdles for the second screen

Second screen tie-ins to TV shows are growing in number but there are still some big hurdles to making them more mainstream and convincing broadcasters that they make both creative and economic sense.

“The media sales teams (of broadcasters) have not understood the full power of the second screen,” said Francois-Xavier Cardon, co-founder and director general of French second-screen technology company virdual.com, which is close to announcing a second screen app with Swiss broadcaster Radio Television Suisse. “The brands have understood so if they can push more on (to) the TV channels that would help.”

Unlocking the funds to produce second screen apps can be a problem, but sometimes a bigger hurdle is getting the broadcasters and production companies “to create experiences together,” said Dick Rempte, CEO of Talents Media in the Netherlands. “Production costs would drop down considerably with proper collaboration. There is a lot of innovation in the space but I would like to see more real collaboration.”

Collaboration was a theme echoed by Jeroen Elfferich, CEO ExMachina, which had hundreds of thousands of people involved in a second screen application that allowed them to “pick the debate winners” around recent political TV debates in the Netherlands. “It’s a great way to engage viewers in topics like politics that can be a bit dense,” he said. The collaborative bit is there has to be a call to action on screen and sometimes the on screen TV analysts are “a bit afraid of it because they used to be in charge” of calling the debate outcome.
Andy Hood, executive creative development director at AKQA, developer of the successful Heineken Star Player second screen app for Champions League Football, believes that we have to move beyond seeing second screen as a “bolt on” to a programme. “What we need in the future is to start with a really good engagement and interaction tool and then transmit the programme that ‘gets’ that value.”

Certainly the most telly-friendly second screen app presented was for Holland’s Got Talent on RTL4 where Talents Media ““crowd sourced” a Got Talent “sidekick” by creating an online audition tool using social media where the community voted on the winner. That winner became the HGT Sidekick who sat in the TV studio and tweeted throughout the live HGT broadcast, becoming the audience’s “eyes and ears in the show,” said Rempt. “The @hgtsidekick got 17,500 Twitter followers which is 1.5x more than the programme itself,” said Rempt. “The key was to combine a social contest with a TV show.” – Kate Bulkley

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