The Dual Screen Experience

Variety’s Entertainment App on Dec 1 provided an intriguing educational opportunity even for those who didn’t attend.

We were well represented at the event by President Jeff Stabenau and Director of Digital Jay Chumley who will be bringing the insights garnered there back to strengthen our app development practice and our app-focused business development, I’m sure.

Of the news which came out of the conference, a fact of particular interest was one which Scott Maddux of Neilsen (the ratings firm) noted: Some 70% of tablet and smart phone owners use their device while watching TV.

What an incredible opportunity for show runners, network executives and marketers of very kind to connect with a willing and interested audience! Speaking from experience, I know that I often have my iPad in hand while I fire up my beloved Tivo: checking IMDB, visiting show websites, reviewing network line-ups and confirming the theatrical release dates of movies.

How can tablet- and phone-based apps make the fan experience richer and more engaging?  Grey’s Anatomy was one of the first shows to provide a synchronized app-based experience and while not every show has the budget or fan base to support such an undertaking, every show can benefit by a mechanism to focus fan attention and deliver MORE to the couch-bound viewer. This could take the form of actor bios and credit lists, episode synopses, behind-the-scenes clips, integration with Facebook/Twitter. Each of these serves to connect the individual viewer to a larger community of fans.

It has been said that TV has become a very solitary experience as multiple devices within the home and a proliferation of channels allowed individual, custom experiences devoted to narrow demographics. TV-focused ‘second screen’ apps have the potential to negate that trend and turn TV viewing into a group activity once again — perhaps not with Mom, Dad and the kids gathered around the digital hearth, but with like-minded people connecting with thousands of others. Not a family, perhaps, but a community nonetheless.