Sramana Mitra: Give us an example of some of those different experiences on the second screen.
Calvin Carter: I watch [the TV show] “Homeland.” The thing I like about it is that you think you know what is going on. The next moment you say, “I can’t believe that just happened.” Then you are not really sure why it happened and you think, “What is going to come next?” At these twists and turns, I would like to see if I can guess what is going on. That is one part of the app. The app then says: “Eighty-two percent of the viewers felt this was going to happen, and look, it didn’t happen.” I don’t know the people who are also watching the show, but we are all people who like the same content. It is fun to be able to do that sort of thing.
SM: What percentage of “Homeland” viewers are using the second screen app?
CC: I don’t know that stat. If I did, [the network] Showtime probably wouldn’t want that published.
SM: Is it a significant adoption or just a beginning trend?
CC: That is an interesting question. It is an early trend in some types of viewing, and it is more proven and accepted in other types of shows. For example, reality shows. It has a tight fit with them. Reality shows are very different from intense and deep dramas. What we did with Showtime was probably the hardest one. We have done several second screen apps all the way from “X-Factor” and live voting. The audience gets to live-vote along with Simon Cowell and the other hosts. You can imagine that is just the perfect fit right there. You tap a button and you vote for a person you think should win.
Then you go Bravo, for example. Most people like to watch Bravo’s programing live. They prefer to be right there on the front. They don’t want to go to work the next day and hear what happened on the show. It would be spoiled for them. Bravo has done a great job at building content that people want first look at. When you think of first look, you think about the fact that most of the viewership who is watching that content is watching it right now with me. Because of that, you lean more on social and caring. There are lots of controversial characters on Bravo, so it is fun to support some or dish on others. That is how you would leverage second screen there. Deep drama is hard because you can argue, “I want to get in to the Homeland experience. I don’t necessarily want to be bothered by my mobile device at these crucial moments in these complex story lines.” You want to get into the drama of it.
So, second screen is actually hardest to fit in that area. By designing it to be both live and time shifted, what we found is that we extend the viewing of the show. A lot of people use the Showsync app in a non-synced way. They finish the show and then they launch the app. If it is an hour-long show they don’t go back and watch the entire show, but they will spend another 15 or 20 minutes going through the different milestones that we created in the second screen experience. They might scrub forward and say, “Oh, yes, that trivia question. I knew that one. I am not going to vote on this poll, because I already know what happened. But it is interesting that 82 percent of viewers thought it was not going to happen, but it really did happen.” It gives you an opportunity to extend that experience of content.
Second screen is trying to find its way in different types of TV experiences and content. You can also imagine it in live sports events. It is very experimental in some areas and growing in others. In the broadcast space we have done TV Everywhere apps for Turner and all of the A&E networks like The History Channel, Scripps Networks, etc. There we essentially turned the Android or iOS device into a television – it is also called authenticated viewing. That is very much here and now. That has become a significant percentage of viewership. A significant percentage of TV time is being done through devices, which is shocking. This did not exist just a couple of years ago.