Tag Archives: Networks

ESPN Can Second-Screen My Life!

As part of an article about the possibility for networks co-opting event rights - like NBC’s Olympic coverage this Summer – without paying a penny, ESPN’s EVP of multimedia sales told Adweek, “We want to see ESPN as a second screen for all sports. We know we have a lot of companion [mobile] usage even when it’s not our event. We want to take co-viewing to the next level.” ESPN may be one of the brands that are best positioned to move beyond just the games they air when it comes to second-screen apps. I would even go one step further… They should expand their definition of second-screen to include all live sporting events – whether you are watching the show on their networks, other networks and, most importantly, if you are physically at the games. This would align with my feeling that the best branded solution for second-screen apps is to focus on affinity groups rather than broad networks or shows.  By doing this, second-screen apps can best complement life and not just viewing habits.

I know this is a little “ideal” or “out there”, but imagine if ESPN was to focus on building that environment that extends the experience of “being there” to all viewers and building bonds in the real world between people who are all at the same event. What if there were special check-ins for people who are physically at the games – or if it automatically tracked whether users were at a venue or not and framed their comments in such a way that they could be found more easily. They can post bits about what they’re seeing in the venue and allow those at home to feel even more connected to the game. This can be done in association with ESPN’s already popular GameCast feature – building out a whole new feel for the game.

Courtesy of Adweek

Though the Adweek article was focused on television and rights, it did get me thinking about the possibilities for second-screen apps that deep dive into themes that matter to affinity groups. There are those brands that could work best to serve those affinity groups in all parts of life – as a second-screen. ESPN is obvious for sports, but could Bravo be the second-screen app for all things Arts – with check-ins and instant reviews from cultural facilities?  Could Food Network be the same for both restaurants and grocery stores? How about E! or Style for nightlife.  In all of these instances, there could be a great opportunity to enable connections in real-life that also feed into our digital lives.

To a certain degree, Facebook is a second-screen App to our lives.  But I think it is too broad. Narrowing down our second-screen-life Apps to the affinity groups (Sports, Culture, Food, Partying, Outdoors, Crafts, etc.) and anchoring them to the large niche cable networks could be just the ticket. If a brand is already developing a companion app, and the cost of including some location-based functionality is incremental, doesn’t it make sense to reach for greater inclusion, interaction and engagement?

Maybe I’m thinking too much in the clouds, but I really don’t think this is too far off.  Even from a sports perspective, there was a time when the new sports venues were installing systems to provide real-time stats at your seat.  Obviously, that went by the wayside when mobile Apps came on the market that could do the same thing.  There is obviously a demand for it in that engagement model.

If the right branding partners are leveraged, it could mean quicker and simpler access by people no matter where they are and what they are watching. Rather than a whole bunch of Apps that are specific to certain locations, requiring people to download a bunch of occasionally used Apps, those brands with the penetration should look to really run the gamut and make their Apps whole for the affinity groups that would most use them.

At that point, we’ll be talking about Second-Screens for our lives – whatever that life may be…

Fear Forces Social Television To Grow Up

TV Guide just released a survey about Social TV and the Mass Market and while I don’t know how many people were included in the survey, one thing that stood out was the top reason for people to share what they are watching.  When asked “Why do you share what you’re watching,” the leading response was not “To tell my friends which shows I watch.” Leading the way with 76% was the reasoning that they do it to help keep their favorite shows on the air.  That’s a huge component – and not a new topic on the list (it was second last year) – that points to the growing maturity (and perhaps cynicism) of the audience. When fans are using social media to try to manipulate the business behind their favorite shows, it’s a sign of growing up that evokes the sense of nostalgia or loss a parent might have when their child starts realizing that Santa, the tooth fairy and leprechauns don’t exist. If the numbers are true, it’s too bad that social media surrounding television has grown up with a bit more fear than innocent discovery.

There has been social outreach that has led to shows being saved in the past (Friday Night Lights and Roswell come quickly to mind.)  A few months ago, Daisy Whitney wrote about the correlation between social buzz and ratings – with the report from Nielsen that, for the 18-34 age group, a 9% increase in social relates to a 1% increase in ratings. But, neither of these directly relates to the fan’s somewhat bizarre use of social to trigger business decisions.  much like parents would not want their children to engage in the family finances, should the providers of television content want the viewers to feel that they have to do anything but love (and interact with) the show to keep it on the air?

With the viewer’s time investment in shows that have no assuredness they will actually remain on the air, perhaps the social action is something they can do to feel that they are affecting the eventual outcomes. And sadly, it seems they feel  that they have to do such a thing as somewhat of a defensive tactic.

There are so many opportunities for social buzz as it relates to celebrating – and even extending the narrative – for beloved shows. With the growing periods of time between seasons for a number of series, there is a need for more social programming to keep the audiences engaged.  Three Showtime series (SHAMELESS, HOUSE OF LIES and CALIFORNICATION) had season finales this past weekend and will not return with new episodes until winter of 2013 – that’s a long time to keep interest up.  Maintaining a flow of social content could help keep interest there. With an even shorter hiatus of nine months, the season 2 premiere the series, THE KILLING on AMC only brought in 1.8 million total viewers. While those numbers are still decent in this fragmented world, its a half million less than the amount who watched the season finale on June 19, 2011. Again, leveraging social to keep viewers engaged rather than letting them fend for themselves could have helped to generate more awareness.

I’ve always felt that social could be a better tool for exploration rather than maintenance. The thing is, there’s often a responsibility tied to the narrative of the show and the question of who “owns” that progression.  In most cases, the show runners or owners would not want to give that control to the users.  Without opening up the opportunities for conversation beyond the latest episode or a show’s “Who Shot J.R.?” question, there’s not really a lot users can dig into during the hiatus.

It then comes down to economics.  Networks have the model of promoting a show when it is actually on the air. The owners of the shows are in the best position to activate campaigns that bridge the gap because they control the show narratives, but they usually don’t have the budgets set up to handle any such campaign. There are many reasons this should change – beyond just retaining fans through long breaks – that we’ll dig into in a later post. I guess it comes down to who needs those viewers more, the show or the network. The answer is probably shared right down the middle to some extent.

So, at some point, the kids caught on to how the adults were doing things and innocence was lost. Some would argue that its hardest to foster true creativity and connection from fear. It would be better for all involved if the fear of a show being cancelled was not the top reason, by a large margin, for people to be involved in a show’s social activity. Time and again, it has been proven that people relate and connect to things that have a narrative or emotional hook more than those with just mechanical activities. The “saving the world” narrative might work for some shows’ fans – probably for limited periods of time – but to truly maintain and build a fan base, there needs to be a shift from fear to celebration/engagement in terms of social media and television.

Nielsen’s Major Technology Goof

While the day played out in London ad:tech quite nicely with solid speakers, engaged audiences and varied exhibitors, it was somewhat of a shock to come back to the hotel to see that Nielsen’s technology might have led to a major goof that may lead to discrediting of technical advances.  The fact that the goof relates to established television tracking is a little bit understandable as they provide more information in their new nPower Platform – which tracks C3 or time shifted viewing.  Unfortunately, the major problem is that the problem could be from as long ago as January 31st.

Was it because of lax oversight in the system?  Will it cause networks to build back their research team so that they are not reliant on 3rd party providers?  With Nielsen trying to push their Facebook Panel and other metrics systems for online, the technical snafu and the extended time before the problem was solved certainly leads to some major concerns as Nielsen looks to push further toward being that 3rd party solution for all advertising platforms.

At ad:tech, we focused a great deal on the constantly changing technology and all that it will allow us to do in storytelling, growth, extension, reporting and more.  It would be a shame if these situations – both the original gaffes and the lack of safety mechanisms – forced the industries to be any more wary of technology than they already are…

Allow Consumption In Any Way – But Smart Decisions Need to Be Made

While monetization for Studios, Networks and Cable companies is key, the reality is that viewers/consumers now have so many ways to watch entertainment and they expect it to be available in the way they want it.  Those sources can either be ignored – which leads to acquiring of content illegally – or they can be provided.  Which comes back to monetization.  They are only going to pay if there is perceived value.  So, which way will the content providers go?  Pick a card?

Here’s an Adweek/Harris Poll relating to television, cable and internet show consumption.  I would certainly add the condition of a wider pipeline – more bandwidth.  While most online viewers are solid (eg. ABC) there is still opportunities for buffering – especially if more people view content this way.  Ultimately, the model has to be figured out because the new paradigm is here.

More than three-quarters (77%) of Americans have now watched a full-length TV show online but less than one-third (30%) of them say they are ready to cut the cord and live off the internet for their entertainment, according to a new Adweek/Harris Pollthat surveyed 2,309 online adults late last month. Almost nine in ten Americans currently have cable TV (87%) but a majority would stop paying for it in favor of watching TV shows online if certain conditions were met (56%):

  • Two in five say they would stop paying for cable TV in favor of watching TV shows on the internet if they could get all of the programs that they wanted to watch for free online
  • A quarter of adults say that they would need to get all the shows they wanted to watch online at the same time that they air on TV (25%)
  • 16% would do so if they could get all the programs they wanted to watch for a small fee online and the same number say they would do so if it was less complicated to set their TV up with internet

Other findings included:

  • Half of U.S. adults say they have watched a show on the internet that they never previously saw on a traditional television (51%)
  • Younger adults 18-34 are more likely (88%) to have watched a TV show online than older demos: 84% of 35-44 year olds, 75% of 45-54 year olds and 64% of 55+ year olds
  • Men and women are equally likely to have watched a TV show on the internet