published by Indigo Productions


Mobile Content Creation – The Age of The Second Screen


I was in the midst of a “Damages” marathon via Netflix last week when I saw a number of familiar actors in the cast whose names I couldn’t place. Without pause or forethought I typed the words “Damages season 3 cast” into the Google bar on my iPhone’s browser and immediately discovered that it was Lily Tomlin who was playing the scheming wife of the corrupt investor. Seeing her pictures triggered fond memories of the great (well, ok, for the 70’s) show “Laugh-in” with Rowan and Martin. Intrigued, I then typed the words “Laugh-in” in the Google bar and began sharing YouTube videos of this ridiculous show with my girlfriend who was not old enough in the 70s to have watched it (she thought I was nuts for liking this show).

Here’s the point of this anecdote: In the span of five minutes while enjoying an evening TV show experience with my partner at home on the couch in downtown New York City, I was immediately able to activate additional layers of digital content from my mobile device that enhanced our viewing experience. This same scenario is happening every day in virtually every home during prime TV viewing times all across the globe. The Second Screen Era is here. And brands and advertisers are drooling over this additional viewing channel that has now become part of the mix.

Using a smartphone (or a tablet – even more so) while watching television has become one of the most popular leisure activities of the mobile age.

Here are some stats from Business Insider’s BI Intelligence Report:

• According to Nielsen, 85 percent of smartphone users reported second screen-linked behavior at least once a month.
• Over 60 percent reported doing it on a weekly basis
• 39 percent did so daily
• According to data from the Pew Internet & American Life project, over 80 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds reported that they use their phone while watching TV, but the behavior decreased steadily in the older age brackets.

Tablet users are the most engaged of the bunch, as tablet usage behavior data shows that tablets are used for the longest period of time when the user is at home during prime time hours. Typically on the couch, in front of the TV, its not uncommon for two or three tablets to be used at the same time – as is common for today’s multi-tasking families.

While my example was primarily research driven (people looking for additional information on actors, directors, set locations, etc) the primary use of “second screen” content is social. Highly popular TV shows, like Game of Thrones, drive increased Twitter activity during the broadcast. And live broadcasts, such as the Grammy’s, unleash a torrent of twitter and Facebook comments – on a variety of inane topics from fashion mishaps to hairstyle choices and lipsync errors – all in real time. It has become sport for viewers to be the first to tweet a snarky comment or reveal a hidden plot point. And forget Football games. Mobile now has provided a national pulpit for every couch-bound Monday morning quarterback in the country. Oreos (yes, the cookie) has built a new reputation as the Tweet king – having produced a few real-time branded Tweets and Facebook updates during TV broadcasts that were inspired and brilliant – adding a whole new layer of marketing muscle to their brand.

This new behavior has created a new marketing opportunity for brands, agencies and video production companies that are on the look out for new engagement channels. In response, the marketing and mobile industry has been developing mobile content (apps and sites primarily) that are companion platforms to what’s on TV, in order to capitalize on this behavior and monetize it for brand marketers.

While seemingly modern, this is not a new thing. Second Screen viewing is a natural evolution of old-world TV engagement – where the guys would share their opinions about last night’s game or the ladies would gossip about the latest episode of Rich Man, Poor Man (I’m really aging myself). Also, before mobile, this kind of on-screen behavior was already being conducted on home PCs or laptops – but now that mobile had entered the picture, its just easier –and more immediate. Viewers come to the living room with a lot more equipment these days: smartphone, tablet, one or two remotes, its like we have to come fully weaponized and ready for the entertainment battle. Its virtually impossible for any modern TV viewer to enjoy an uninterrupted televised program where the smartphone or tablet is not weaved into the experience either reactively (responding to an incoming call, text or email) or proactively (sending out a tweet or sharing a Facebook update about the show). We have become a multi-screen audience.

So it makes sense that the development of Second screen apps and sites will provide a perfect bridge between the ever-powerful TV content realm to the world of digital engagement. Marketers and video production companies now have a very unique environment to test new strategies that straddle these two worlds.

This new engagement behavior is getting the attention of reputable research organizations as well. Earlier this month, both Nielsen and Twitter announced that they are joining forces to deliver a new way to track television viewership.

The program, called “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,” will look at the total audience for television on Twitter. Among the information it will aggregate includes those who Tweet about particular shows and those who are exposed to the Tweets.

Nielsen already receives social television analytics from SocialGuide, a platform that provides rankings for the most talked about TV shows and the number of unique Tweets per program.
Some of the most popular Second Screen mobile initiatives include HBO Go and Showtime’s “Sync” for iPad, which automatically generates show-related content while users watch HBO or Showtime on their TVs. HBO Go’s Game of Thrones content was outstanding – providing insights, backstories and interviews with the actors – as well as trivial tidbits about the characters. Earlier this year, the Superbowl Sunday extravaganza on CBS provided a means for tablet users to watch the game via the CBS website and have exclusive access to camera angles that were not available on TV.

What does this mean for video production companies? The Second Screen generation is moving toward “no-TV” homes – now that younger viewers are more inclined to watch ALL of their TV content online. My 18 year old son only watches Soccer games on TV – the rest he gets from content sharing sites, TV pirating sites, paid content sites like Netflix and Hulu and of course, YouTube. As more content is viewed online as a compliment to TV broadcasts and younger audiences continue to migrate away from traditional TV, there is more need for professional grade online video. MyDamnchannel, Funnyordie, Comedy Central, Yahoo and of course, YouTube, are now developing broadcast grade content channels designed to provide alternatives to cable and network productions. These channels will be in need of more and more quality video productions as the demand for these platforms grows. Spurred by the incredible success of HBO’s stellar productions (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, etc) Netflix recently produced an entire series called House of Cards that was available ONLY on Netflix. The entire series was posted at once – allowing viewers more control over viewing time preferences; and recently the fringe fave Arrested Development was brought out of the woodshed for a similar treatment – resulting in series “binging” where viewers watched the entire season in one sitting and creating an entire social meme for these marathon viewers.

The demand for online video content is only going to increase as mobile and tablet viewership becomes more pervasive. Opportunities for mobile / tablet based tie-ins of broadcasts will likely create an entire new industry.

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Category: Video Production, Web Video Production

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