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Second-screen viewers can be a great market opportunity for those looking to reach people who want to synchronize their content to what's on TV.

Enhanced Viewer Experience: How Broadcasters Can Accommodate Multitaskers

January 25th, 2016   ||    by Todd Wasserman

An “enhanced viewer experience” is one method broadcasters use to captivate those viewers whose attentions are split as they engage in other mediums while watching TV.

Today, such TV viewers are becoming the norm. A recent Nielsen study showed that 58 percent of viewers browse the Internet while they watch video programming. According to Adweek, 87 percent of respondents use more than one device at a time.

Enhanced Viewer Experience Experiments

Noting such statistics, networks have been eager to cater to viewers who are likely to have a laptop, smartphone or tablet on their lap as they tune in, potentially engaging in social networking apps such as Twitter and Facebook. Initially, a wave of startups in 2011 thought there might be an opportunity to create new social networks around second-screen viewing. However, as Gigaom reports, many of them—including Yahoo’s Intonow, GetGlue, Tunerfish, BeeTV, and Philo—were defunct by 2014.

In their wakes, Twitter became the primary conduit for TV-based second-screen experiences. Business Insider reported that the giant social network paid a hefty price to buy Bluefin Labs, a social TV analytics firm, in 2013. The acquisition was designed to help advertisers make decisions about second-screen-based marketing messages, such as which programming made the most sense to tie into and when to reach viewers.

That year, Twitter also introduced Amplify, which let broadcasters run clips of notable moments from various shows along with pre-roll and post-roll ads. For instance, ESPN, an early advertiser on the program, ran highlights from NBA games that included ads for the film “After Earth.” In 2015, Twitter also introduced TV Timelines, which aggregates discussions about TV shows.

Viewer Opinion

There is one notable problem with such programs. Though viewers are obviously engaging with two screens, it is unclear whether they want to synchronize their content. Many seem happy to have a program running on TV while they use their various devices for other things, such as surfing the Web or checking email. Overall, viewers seem to be lukewarm thus far.

According to Business Wire, a 2014 study by the Consumer Electronics Association and the National Association of Television Program Executives found that 42 percent of respondents who used their smartphones or tablets to access related TV show content have tried to synchronize them with live TV. However, only 13 percent said that syncing their devices for a second-screen viewing experience made it “much more enjoyable.” The majority said it made the TV viewing experience only “somewhat” better.

The study also found that more than half of respondents access second-screen content that is unrelated to what they’re watching on TV during commercials. This indicates there might be an opportunity for broadcasters to create second-screen moments during those breaks.

2016 and Beyond

Since so few consumers have tried to engage in synchronized content, there is arguably a big opportunity to recreate them. Twitter is trying to do so now with the 2016 presidential debates. TV Week reported that the social media giant will work with CBS News to have instructed moderators mine Twitter for questions during the broadcast. In the Democratic debates on Nov. 14, co-moderator Nancy Cordes drew a question from Twitter. Some users applauded Twitter and CBS News for the crowdsourcing, which arguably netted a tougher question than the moderator might have otherwise asked.

As this instance illustrates, the race to “own” the second screen is intensifying. Twitter likely won’t be able to walk away with the market. In October, Facebook introduced a suite of tools for advertisers looking to capitalize on second-screen viewing. While it’s unclear whether consumers want second-screen content, it’s clear they will get several opportunities to try it in the next year or so.

To learn more about enhanced viewer experience, contact Videa.

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