While there was a certain amount of clamour around 3D – not least because James Cameron was in town – there is no doubt that IBC’s hottest topic this year was multi-screening. No-one can argue about the consumer demand, because it is happening already: we are all using laptops, smartphones or iPads while watching television.
The debate came around how we can make money out of it. For keynote speaker Joanna Shields of Facebook it was all about building brands. Grown-up cartoon show Family Guy has close to 40 million fans on Facebook. Motoring show Top Gear’s website gets a third of its hits as links from its Facebook page.
Perhaps the most interesting point Shields made was that Facebook is working with Mediaset on a “social EPG”, a new way to drive discovery of content through recommendations from like-minded people. “We are shifting from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends,” she said.
Fru Hazlitt of ITV in the UK called for more ingenuity in the way that second screen content is developed. “It’s about taking the power of the traditional and combining it with the power of the new,” she said.
But it does call for innovative thinking. Evan Krauss of Shazam admitted that simple behind the scenes additional content “is a bit lame… there are a lot more interesting deals to be done.” He also said that TV networks tend to be “slow and uncreative,” adding that most advertisers are reluctant to spend money yet on second screen applications.For broadcasters and media companies, then, the message is clear.
We have to be ready to deliver interesting and immersive content to multiple screens to retain control of the audience. But as no-one has yet worked out what that content needs to be if it is going to make money, we have to be prepared for the unknown.